Kamikaze or Heroes? Japanese Elders Tackle Fukishima
The BBC Asia-Pacific News reported on May 31, that 200 elder Japanese men are lobbying the government to allow them to take over the hazardous task of securing the Fukushima nuclear power plant. They call themselves the Skilled Veteran's Corps, and they are retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60. Yasuteru Yamada, a retired engineer, felt impelled while watching television reports of teams, made up mostly of young people, laboring within the compound of the damaged nuclear reactor at Fukushima, to step forward and share the dangers of these essential tasks.
Yamada, a 72 year old pensioner, uncomfortable with being a mere spectator of the unfolding nuclear crisis, set out to organize a team of men like himself to help in the effort. He has been tweeting and emailing friends and professional acquaintances for several weeks in an attempt to create a team of sufficient size and skill to quickly take over the perilous job of shutting down the leaking reactor site. He is dispassionately philosophical about the personal risk this would mean for him and his colleagues. "I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live," says Yamada. "Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer."
Mr. Yamada has not yet received official permission to take over the hazardous detail at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, but he persists despite the caution of the Japanese government. He intimates that Japan's nuclear crisis is a politically sensitive issue and the government is reticent about making any move that could draw attention to the problems that have already been so damaging to their national image.Continued on the next page