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Commenting on the latest leak, the head of Japan’s nuclear regulator Tanaka Shunichi, told reporters: "Mistakes are often linked to morale. People usually don't make silly, careless mistakes when they’re motivated and working in a positive environment. The lack of it, I think, may be related to the recent problems."
If it seems odd that the utility is running out of cash to clean up from the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, that’s because it is, says Watanabe. “Every penny the company spends in Fukushima is a loss. So the mentality is to save as much as possible, not to ensure good conditions and safety for workers.”
As Tepco cut costs and attempted to calm public anger over its handling of the crisis, it imposed a 20 percent pay cut for all employees in 2011. From a total workforce of 37,000, 1,286 people left the firm between April 2011 and June this year. Tepco did not hire any employees in fiscal 2012 and 2013.
The longer decommissioning continues, the harder it will become to find enough people with specialist knowledge to see it through, says Naka Yukiteru, a former General Electric employee who helped build some of Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors. “There aren’t enough trained people at Fukushima Daiichi, even now,” he says. “For Tepco, money is the top priority – nuclear technology and safety comes second and third. That is why the accident happened. The management insists on keeping the company going. They think about shareholders, bank lenders and the government, not the people of Fukushima.