June 19, 2019

Japanese ‘kamikaze’ pensioners volunteer to work at Fukushima nuclear site

Yasuteru Yamada - a new kind of super-hero with no special powers or rippling muscles.

A group of over 200 Japanese pensioners are volunteering to work at the Fukushima nuclear power station to help contain the radiation leaks.

They call themselves ‘The Skilled Veterans Corps’ and are retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60.

They say they should be facing the dangers of radiation, not the young.

Yasuteru Yamada was while watching the television news about the Fukusima crisis and decided it was time for his generation to stand up.

The retired engineer is reporting back for duty at the age of 72, and he has organised a team of pensioners to go with him.

Volunteering to take the place of younger workers at the power station is not brave, Mr Yamada says, but logical. There is a touch of Vulcan about this one.

“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.”

Mr Yamada is lobbying the government hard for his volunteers to be allowed into the power station. The government has expressed gratitude but hasn’t taken up the offer yet.

Mr Yamada has laughed off suggestions that the Skilled Veterans Corp is some kind of new Kamikaze group like the Japanese pilots toward the end of the Second World War.

“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,” he said.

Yasuteru Yamada and his Skilled Veterans Corpare a wonderful example for a self-centred world that sacrifice for others is a worthy and honourable thing.