Japan expressed disappointment on Friday about UN human rights monitors’ criticism of its treatment of workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Tens of thousands of clean-up workers at the plant are reportedly being exploited and exposed to toxic radiation, according to Baskut Tuncak, Urmila Bhoola and Dainius Puras, the respective UN rapporteurs on hazardous waste, modern slavery, and health.

“Workers hired to decontaminate Fukushima reportedly include migrant workers, asylum seekers and people who are homeless,” they wrote in their joint statement issued in Geneva on Thursday.

However, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said the statement could unnecessarily spark worries and confusion, the Kyodo News agency reported.

“It’s regrettable, as the statement [is] based on one-sided allegations that could exacerbate the suffering of people in the disaster-hit areas,” the ministry said.

“We properly handled problematic cases in the past and do not regard it as a situation which requires any urgent response,” an unnamed official at the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry told Kyodo.

The plant suffered meltdowns at three of its six reactor plants after it was hit by a powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami in March 2011.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said it would take about four decades to decommission the plant.

The Justice Ministry said in July that four construction companies hired foreign trainees for decontamination work at the complex.

Those non-Japanese workers were sent through a controversial trainee programme that was introduced in 1993 to transfer skills to developing countries.

However, it has been criticised for giving companies a cover for importing cheap labour.

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