Monday, April 11, 2011

NE Japan: McCleanup But Who For?

McDonald’s Wage For Nuclear Job Shows Japan Towns Fading

A week before becoming ground zero for the world’s biggest nuclear crisis since 1986, the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant offered $11 an hour for full-time maintenance work in an area of Japan that was lagging even before last month’s earthquake and tsunami struck.

The wage, the same as McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) pays for part-time work in Tokyo, shows the scale of the northern Tohoku region’s economic blight and indicates towns may never recover from the disaster. Almost 28,000 people are dead or missing and 150,000 are homeless in Tohoku, where 25 percent of the population is 65 or older and job seekers outnumber jobs by two-to-one.

Once the rescue and clean-up is over, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government will have to decide whether to rebuild homes, roads and businesses or relocate tens of thousands of people. The challenge: structure investment plans to bring private job creation, beyond the short-term bump from public works.

“To put it very crudely, there won’t be a lot of people left in these communities,” Takayoshi Igarashi, Kan’s special adviser on addressing population decline and rural decay, said in an interview. “Old people will pass away and the young will surely leave for Tokyo. The government now faces this awful choice of whether to invest in rebuilding these areas or leaving them behind.” more

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