Tepco said at the time it was taking steps to limit worker abuses. Japan, long resistant to immigration, is opening its doors to more foreign workers under a law that went into effect this month. The law allows about 345,000 blue-collar workers to enter Japan over five years in 14 sectors, such as construction and nursing care, which face acute labour shortages. One category of "specified skilled workers" can stay up to five years but cannot bring families. A second category of visas, limited to the construction and shipbuilding industries, allows workers to bring their families and be eligible to stay longer. An older programme that allows workers in on "technical trainee" visas has long been dogged with cases of abuses, including low and unpaid wages, excessive hours, violence and sexual harassment. Three reactors at Fukushima had meltdowns in the 2011 disaster, which also knocked out power and cooling at the nuclear station. The disaster forced 160,000 people to evacuate areas near the Fukushima plant. Many of them will never return to the most contaminated areas. Japan's government estimated in 2016 that the cost of dismantling Fukushima, decontaminating the affected areas and paying compensation would amount to 21.5 trillion yen(147.81 billion pounds), around 20 percent of the country's annual budget. Tepco has struggled for more than eight years with rising levels of contaminated water that comes from its jerry-rigged cooling system for the melted reactor cores, in addition to power failures and water leaks.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Paul Tait)