As a result, plant workers, emergency services personnel and scientists have been battling for the past week to restore the pumping of water to the Fukushima nuclear plant and to prevent a meltdown at one of the reactors. A team of about 300 workers – wearing masks, goggles and protective suits sealed with duct tape and known as the Fukushima 50 because they work in shifts of 50-strong groups – have captured the attention of the Japanese who have taken heart from the toil inside the wrecked atom plant. "My eyes well with tears at the thought of the work they are doing," Kazuya Aoki, a safety official at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told Reuters.
Eyes will well. More:
Little is known about this band of heroes, except for the few whose relatives have spoken to the Japanese media. One woman said that her father, who had worked for an electricity company for 40 years and who was due to retire in September, had volunteered. "I feel it's my mission to help," he told his daughter.
"We all support them and want them to be successful," said Shinichi, 34, a banker who gave only his first name as he waited in line to buy gas for company vehicles in Tagajo, about 70 miles north of the battle to save the reactors. "They're probably the 50 hardest-working people in the world right now. But I'd do the same thing."
As the Japanese are tested with disasters beyond their imagining, many see the bravery of the Faceless 50 [the L.A. Times version of the Fukushima 50] as the epitome of group responsibility, known as Yamato-damashi, or Japanese spirit. That collective consciousness is almost second nature to the Japanese, Shinichi said, especially in times of crisis.
"This is our Yamato spirit," he said. "We don't understand where it comes from. But we all have it."
A Fukushima Daiichi worker named Michiko Otsuki posted this:
People have been flaming Tepco. But the staff of Tepco have refused to flee, and continue to work even at the peril of their own lives. Please stop attacking us.
I realized as I collected information for this post that I was choking up as I did so. Consider how many of these workers have lost family and friends to the earthquake and tsunami. Think what they have to go home to now - if they even have homes anymore.
So I said to myself, Go ahead and cry. I thought, It doesn’t change a thing.
The Japanese are a beautiful people in a ravaged world. I gave a little more money to relief because that’s about all I can do.
Stand and salute the Fukushima 50. It’s the least you can do.