Emmanuelle Bodin sues NHK: Says she was unfairly fired after fleeing Japan after Fukushima accident

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    A couple days after the March 11th 2011 earthquake, the French government told its citizens to flee the Tokyo region. It was a notorious overreaction to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident. It was based on fear and/or distrust, not on actual information about a credible or serious threat the people of Tokyo. At the time, many of us in Japan harshly criticized the French embassy’s response. The consensus at the time among nuclear experts was that Tokyo was not in danger, and subsequent investigations of the nuclear accident have found that they were right. It was totally unnecessary for people to leave Tokyo.

    Nonetheless, quite a few foreign residents of Tokyo fled. Among them were nine employees of the French section of NHK’s Radio Japan. Eight of those employees later returned to Japan and resumed work at NHK. But one of them, Emmanuelle Bodin, was fired. She is now suing NHK for 22.17 million yen ($250,000) in damages, claiming that they unfairly dismissed her:

    “In order to protect my family, I decided to temporarily leave Tokyo. . . . Prior to my departure I followed the required NHK work procedures, which included obtaining permission from my management,” Bodin said in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, where she and one of her lawyers, Kazuyuki Azusawa, held a news conference.

    NHK claims otherwise. They say that she did not request leave, but instead “unilaterally” informed her managers that she was leaving Japan. Other foreign contractors who temporarily fled had given at least a day’s notice to NHK before leaving. Bodin apparently informed her boss just 3.5 hours before she was scheduled to work on a radio program.

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