TEPCO Ties To The Yakuza: Gone? Police Sources Still Skeptical.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the monolithic corporation that controls all electric power in Greater Tokyo, and was responsible for a triple meltdown at their nuclear power plant in Fukushima (March 11th-March 15th) pledged on July 19th (2011), that they would try to keep organized crime members (yakuza) from participating in the reconstruction of the power plant and related projects. They have been working with the Japanese National Police Agency to accomplish this but sources inside that agency are dubious as to whether there have been any real results. TEPCO officials met with the National Police and agency and 23 subcontractors on the 22nd of July and created a conference group on the issue. This was the first official conference group they have ever held with the police on organized crimes issues according to government sources.
Tokyo Electric Power Company explained, at the time, that the reasons behind the sudden announcement and pledges is, “that we want to people to widely know our exclusionary stance towards organized crime.”
According to TEPCO and police sources, since the reconstruction project has picked up speed, the number of workers has dramatically increased to several thousand. The Japanese NPA (National Police Agency) has directed TEPCO from as early as June, to keep the yakuza out of the workers—although many of the subcontractors of the subcontractors are known yakuza front companies. Over forty workers or more later were found to have used fake names when getting jobs doing reconstruction work and are presently unaccounted for. A former yakuza fan magazine editor, has also been able to get into the reactor as a worker under false pretenses. He has written extensively about yakuza working on the reconstruction site at present. Another recently published book detailed how a reporter was able to fake his credentials, and get access to the core control sections of the nuclear reactors.
Even before the meltdown, it was very common for TEPCO to use outsourcing firms that that would ultimately outsource work to organized crime front companies, many of which are temporary labor dispatch services, such as Kodo-kai backed M-Kogyo in Fukuoka Prefecture and Yokohama city. Organized crime groups from Kyushu are bringing workers as well. Matsuba-kai related firms are handling waste disposal and site clean-ups.
In fact, in May, TEPCO’s Public Relations Department, when asked by this reporter, if TEPCO had what are now the standard “organized crime exclusionary clauses” (暴力団排除条項) in their contracts with subcontractors, replied, “We don’t have them standardized into our contracts. We don’t check or demand that our subcontractors have them in their contracts. We are considering doing so in the future.” TEPCO has also not fully implemented the Japanese government issued guidelines for corporations who wish to avoid doing business with organized crime. TEPCO also refused to name the companies they use for outsourcing labor, or doing security checks, and the general security at the nuclear power plants, “because to do so would be in non-compliance with personal privacy information protection laws.”
At the conferences with the police, TEPCO was supposed to share information with the police, learn the proper methods of dealing with organized crime shakedowns, and study how to do the paperwork to require the subcontractors to exclude organized crime from their businesses. However, TEPCO will probably not be held responsible for the second or third tier firms to which the work is further subcontracted. A senior National Police Agency officer, speaking on grounds of anonymity said, “I doubt these meetings with TEPCO have produced any great results. TEPCO has a history of doing business with the yakuza that is far deeper than just using their labor. Under the new laws that went into effect on October 1st, providing capital or profits to anti-social forces becomes a crime. The TMPD (Tokyo Metro Police Department) may have to issue TEPCO a warning. After the warning, there would be arrests.”
The same source noted that a TEPCO employee was arrested for insurance fraud along with a Sumiyoshi-kai member in May of this year but there was no evidence that TEPCO itself or any other TEPCO employees were involved in the crime. It only indicated that at least one TEPCO employee had organized crime connections. In January of 2003, it was reported that TEPCO had been making pay offs to the Sumiyoshi-kai for over twenty years via leasing plants and buying green tea from them. TEPCO also allegedly paid Yamaguchi-gumi associate and former member, Takeuchi Yoichi (竹内陽一元山口組組長）, several thousand dollars to stop writing about safety problems at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in the 90s. Circa 2002-2003 Mizutani Construction, after being named a sub-contractor on TEPCO’s Fukushima nuclear reactor waste disposal project (残土処理), paid Takeuchi’s front company as “consulting fees” an amount over a million dollars (約一億２千万円). This is well-documented in the recently published book on Mizutani Kensetsu by Isao Mori. I spoke with one NPA official responsible for the Fukushima District about Takeuchi and his involvement with TEPCO. He had a very short response: “I know the name very well. I’d be careful where and to whom you asked that question. That’s all I have to say.”
There’s one good thing you can say about TEPCO: they have been equal opportunity employers for many years and don’t discriminate against the yakuza. Sumiyoshi-kai, Yamaguchi-gumi, Matsuba-kai–everyone is welcome at TEPCO.