Japanese nuclear experts sought by Korea

02/17/2012
By

Korea attempts to recruit Japanese nuclear engineers.

TOKYO (majirox news) — South Korean government officials have been targeting TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) officials, in an attempt to persuade them to move to South Korea.

Two executive engineers were approached late last year, but turned down the offer to work in a South Korean government-owned company, according to the Mainichi Shimbun. One of them claims that he was asked over dinner about the recent cuts in his salary, whether he was happy to continue working at TEPCO, and a request was made for him to join the nuclear power company in South Korea. The country currently obtains some 30% of its power from nuclear sources, with an expressed policy of expansion, and intends exporting its expertise to other countries, such as Turkey (a market where Japan is also a bidder).

Though up to 300 employees have left TEPCO since the disaster in March last year (three times the average), and another 300 are expected to leave in the near future, TEPCO does not believe that any have as yet joined a foreign nuclear power company.

Reasons for employees leaving TEPCO include the pay cuts mentioned above (of more than 20 percent), resulting from the massive indebtedness of the company (over US $56.6 billion in compensation alone, with an even higher sum needed to pay for the immediate and long-term clean-up and decommissioning of the reactors), as well as the general unpopularity of the company in the public’s eyes.

A manager of the company is quoted as saying that though many younger engineers and managers have left the company in mid-career – an unusual move for Japanese salaried workers – it is difficult to retain them.

The issue poses security problems. TEPCO enjoys some expertise in the field of plutonium – an element used in the production of atomic bombs — and leakage of this information could be seen as a challenge to the Nuclear Non-proliferation

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