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Japan's 'sacrificial' elderly nuclear cleanup squad
A group of more than 250 retirees wants to replace the younger workers cleaning up the toxic Fukushima nuclear plant. Should Japan green light this "suicide corps"? 
Workers inside the dangerously toxic Fukishima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant: A "suicide corps" of retired engineers wants to replace the young workers.
Workers inside the dangerously toxic Fukishima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant: A "suicide corps" of retired engineers wants to replace the young workers.
REUTERS/Takeshi Tanigawa
T

he effort to clean up and shut down Japan's crippled, leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility will be long and dangerous. Just this week, two more workers in their 30s and 40s were reportedly exposed to potentially deadly amounts of radiation. That's nonsense, says a group of 250 over-60 retired engineers and other professionals with a strong sense of "sacrificial spirit." This selfless Skilled Veterans Corps — dubbed the "suicide corps" — is lobbying to take over the cleanup effort to spare Japan's younger workers. So far, Japan's government has declined the group's offer. But should it reconsider?

Let the retirees get to work: These brave elderly pensioners say they won't develop cancer in time to die from it, and their reasoning is hard to refute, says Emily Lodish in GlobalPost. When capable retirees can "do the work without paying the price," why should Japan's scarce young workers risk their future? The government is balking at the idea for now, but "honestly, what are they waiting for?... Let the old people in!"
"Japan's totally awesome old people"

A nuclear meltdown needs more than dabblers: There's a certain "biological logic" to the elderly volunteers' well-intentioned offer, says Clay Dillow in Popular Science. But their "willingness to trade in their retirements for the long road to stabilizing the power plant" may not be enough to get the job done, given just how long and labor-intensive that road will be.
"Japanese elderly offer to take over Fukushima nuclear cleanup"

The Fukushima volunteers aren't alone: The Skilled Veterans Corps is "confident that their wish will be granted," says David McKie in The Guardian. And that will prompt sighs of envy from the global cadre of seniors who entered retirement kicking and screaming. At Fukushima, the "restless pensioners" can return to work knowing that even in an age of high unemployment, their new career won't "stand in the way of young people with families and building societies to feed."
"Fukushima volunteers are conscious of their amortality"

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