(LinkAsia: February 10, 2012)
It's not just the nuclear industry that's having trouble restarting. Japan's fisheries still can't shake off the effects of last spring's earthquake and tsunami. First, the disaster damaged seafood processing plants. Now, NHK says the industry is facing another hurdle that's preventing it from restarting operations.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: February 6, 2012
The disaster last spring left its mark on Ishinomaki. It took the lives of nearly 3,300 residents and left the city in ruins. Factories that process seafood were so badly damaged, they couldn't operate. Now the industry is trying to get back on its feet, but it's proving difficult. Takashi Yokoyama owns a seafood processing company. He's building a new plant where the old one stood. He expects to get production rolling again in August. He offered jobs to his former employees, but many turned him down. A lot of them had found other jobs.
Takashi Yokoyama, Suishin:
Some now live with relatives in Tokyo. Others have moved to Sendai, the nearest big city. They found new jobs. At least my former employees are not coming back to work for me.
He's found it impossible to hire new employees to replace the former ones. He's not alone. Many other seafood companies in the devastated region face the same problem. This company started processing seafood again last October, at a factory that had not suffered major damage. But the firm was only able to re-hire seven former employees, half the number working there before the disaster. Noriyuki Hobara owns the company. He asked the local employment agency for seven workers. He waited by the phone. But after four months, no one had applied.
Noriyuki Hobara, Hobara Company:
I thought I would get at least a few calls. But there hasn't been a single one. I simply cannot start a business without workers.
Hobara says people have found higher paying jobs in the building industry, booming now that re-construction has started. Many people need the higher paying jobs to make up for lost wages.
I hear that construction jobs are paying about $130 a day. The truth is that jobs in the seafood industry pay less. We pay about USD$80 a day.
Hobara again asks the employment agency for workers. This time, he offered higher wages, even though his business might lose money.
I decided to raise the wage from USD$80 a day to USD$130.
That's equal to the salary plant managers receive.
I would appreciate it if you could find me one or two people. Obviously, you can't do anything at all without workers. All I want is to hire people and get the business running again.
First, it was the earthquake and tsunami that stopped the plants' operations. Now, it's the rebuilding. Unless the seafood companies find employees, it will take longer for this devastated city to recover.