citing "normalcy" at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Instead, TEPCO will sell "bento" lunch boxes at the plant. No information yet on how much TEPCO will charge.
From September 14 (JST) tweets by Ryuichi Kino, independent journalist who's been covering TEPCO press conferences from the beginning of the crisis:
TEPCO stopped providing bento lunches at Fukushima I. From now on, the company will sell bento at Fukushima I. Workers are to pre-order in order to get bento. Asking how much TEPCO will charge for bento. Personally they should continue to provide lunch for free.
TEPCO's Matsumoto explains the company has been providing [for free] boil-in-the-bag food because high radiation at the plant prevented [workers] from bringing in bento. But the situation has stabilized at the plant, and the boil-in-the-bag food is no longer necessary, so the company is switching to bento, Matsumoto says.
Matsumoto says now that things are getting back to normal, the workers can bring their own bento or purchase one, and so there is no need to provide free lunch. Hmmm, it doesn't make sense to me.
To begin with, there is no store open anywhere near Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Workers cannot leave the plant [during the work], and they have to leave for work at early hours like 3 in the morning. They are not commuting from their own homes so they cannot make their own bento. How can he called it "normal"?
Why can't TEPCO take care of the meals for the workers? Having them purchase bento will reduce TEPCO's cost, and increase personal cost to the workers. I asked [if it's TEPCO's cost reduction measure], but Matsumoto just repeated "Things are now back to normal..."
Is it TEPCO's cost reduction? "It's not that, but things are getting normal..." I guess what it means is indeed the cost reduction. But the wages for the workers are being raised. It's just shifting the burden on the workers.
The net wages to the workers, after the multiple layers of subcontractors take their cut, are not that much. The living condition of the workers is far from "normal". TEPCO must know that, but still stops providing free lunch. I can't think of any other reason but cost reduction. What is the company thinking, weakening the morale of the workers like this?
And the national government and the Fukushima prefectural government continue to look the other way. Many of these workers are from Fukushima Prefecture, some from the very towns where Fukushima I Nuke Plant is located, but the governor of Fukushima is more keen on securing the next big "dango" businesses which will include "decontamination" and debris clearing and medical data collection/research. NISA said early on in the crisis that it "had no plan to do anything about the situation of food for the workers, as it is TEPCO's problem".
Those rich philanthropists (cum business tycoons) in Japan completely ignore Fukushima I Nuke Plant or the workers. Masayoshi Son, of Softbank for example, has given 10 billion yen (US$130 million) to Miyagi Prefecture for its dubious disaster relief plan. A fraction of that money could provide free bento for the workers at Fukushima.
Let's see... Bento 500 yen a piece, workers 3,000. 1.5 million yen per day. It's been about 180 days. So TEPCO may have spent the total 270 million yen, or about US$3.5 million so far. Annually, it would be 540 million yen, or about US$7 million.
Well, it looks all TEPCO needs to do is to say to ex-President Shimizu, "Sorry, we have to have your fat severance paycheck back".
Or why can't the plant workers receive some of the donation money generously given by people from all around the world, so they can buy lunch? The money is still sitting at all levels - national, prefectural, municipal.