Over 200 retired Japanese professionals — dubbed the Skilled Veterans Corps — have volunteered to help bring stability to the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The volunteers — all over 60 years old — are lobbying the government to be allowed to replace some of the younger employees at the power station. “I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live,” says 72-year-old Yasuteru Yamada, a former engineer. “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.”
Though grateful, both the government and TEPCO remain tentative about accepting the senior citizens’ offer.
“It is on the way but it is a very, very sensitive issue politically,” Yamada told BBC News. Goshi Hosono, the prime minister’s special adviser to the nuclear crisis, controversially referred to the group as the “suicide corps” during a recent a press conference.
“I don’t think I’m particularly special,” Michio Ito, a retired primary school teacher, is quoted as saying.
“Most Japanese have this feeling in their heart. The question is whether you step forward, or you stay behind and watch.”