Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fighting Radioactivity? Pensioners to the Rescue!

Sometimes the Japanese just blow my mind. The entire fabric of society here and how people work as a team and believe in doing their utmost for the betterment of all is just amazing. The spirit of self-sacrifice that these wonderful people show to each other is awe inspiring.

Here is a jaw-dropping story about how 60 ~ 70+-year old senior citizens Japanese are banding together to work at the crippled nuclear power plants at Fukushima. Deutsche Welle reports

High levels of radiation and uncertainty as to how long it might take to get the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi stabilized mean that the health of workers and people in the area is becoming an increasingly important concern.

The authorities are already finding it difficult to find enough people who are willing to go into the contaminated area and carry out necessary construction and decontamination work. However, a group of middle-aged volunteers have said they are willing to step in and put their lives at risk.

"My acquaintances and I talked very intensively about the accident and about how we could help contain the disaster," explained 72-year-old Yasuteru Yamada who came up with the idea.

"A functioning cooling system is indispensable," he pointed out. "But who is supposed to build it? Only people can do it. So why not us? Since we don’t have such a long future ahead?"

Pensioners at Fukushima

Yamada is a former engineer who studied metallurgy. He set up "Qualified Veterans for Fukushima Nuclear Plant No. 1" as a registered charity to convince the authorities of its seriousness.

He did not name the people he had already spoken to but said that the hope was that a plan would have been "developed by the end of May or at the latest in June."

Yamada also explained that the initiative was not a kamikaze action at all, but one that has been very well thought through. "Things have to be done in a team," he said. "Our project should be part of a long-term plan under state control. We have to examine people’s skills very carefully to find out what tasks are appropriate for them."

450 helping hands

Yamada and his friends have now contacted 2,500 people in Tokyo and the surroundings. Some 450 people have already offered their help and 90 of them - all in their 60s - have agreed to work in the plant itself. He says they are "worried about what’s coming. But should we not do anything just because we are worried?"

It is an amazing testament to the spirit and kinship of the Japanese that the elders would do this for the others and the youth of this country. While this is not the entire picture, it is a small slice showing why the Japanese spirit of sacrifice is considered a nobel and extremely honorable trait.

These old folks are heroes.

There's many more like them. Let us bow our heads and treat them with respect, not just in Fukushima, but when opening doors for them or giving up our train seats for these folks.

Read more:,,6530334,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-asia-5133-rdf


Anonymous said...

Woah! Well spotted. Kudos for the wrinklies (oops! that's probably offended someone - go straight to jail, do not pass Go!). Not so excited about the "under State control" bit, tho. Does private initiative have such a stigma that something has to be stamped "with Government approval" before folks will take it seriously?

PS Anyone seen a Japanese-language source for this story? Please let me know over on my blog.

Anonymous said...

yeah... considering the mess is by a private power company... maybe understandable in this instance.

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