SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2023
A group of more than 200 Japanese pensioners are volunteering to tackle the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power station.
The Skilled Veterans Corps, as they call themselves, is made up of retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60.
They say they should be facing the dangers of radiation, not the young.
It was while watching the television news that Yasuteru Yamada decided it was time for his generation to stand up.
No longer could he be just an observer of the struggle to stabilise the Fukushima nuclear plant.
The retired engineer is reporting back for duty at the age of 72, and he is organising a team of pensioners to go with him.
For weeks now Mr Yamada has been getting back in touch with old friends, sending out e-mails and even messages on Twitter.
Volunteering to take the place of younger workers at the power station is not brave, Mr Yamada says, but logical.
"I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live," he says.
"Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer."
Others are former power station workers, experts in factory design - and even a singer and two cooks - Mr Yamada says they will be useful to keep his team amused and fed.
"We are not kamikaze. The kamikaze were something strange, no risk management there. They were going to die. But we are going to come back. We have to work but never die."
I highly respect these people.
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