IT HAS taken the Japanese government more than 18 months to pay tribute to a group of brave men, once known as the “Fukushima 50”, who risked their lives to prevent meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant from spiralling out of control. But when the prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, belatedly offered official thanks to them on October 7th something strange was afoot: six of the eight men he addressed had their backs to the television cameras, refused to be photographed and did not introduce themselves by name, not even to Mr Noda...
... the men wanted to keep their identities secret because they were scared of stigmatisation for being involved in the disaster, such as might lead to the bullying of their children and grandchildren. But Tepco is also muzzling them, presumably for fear that what they say will further discredit the now nationalised company.
... contrast between the frontline worker’s behaviour and the brazen hypocrisy of Tepco’s management after the accident. I remember Tepco’s then-chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata (now thankfully retired), nonchalantly blaming everyone but himself...
The government, for its part, has done these men a huge disservice by not acting more quickly to differentiate their heroism from the craven self-interest of the company’s bosses.
... the headlines, ultimately, refer back to Mr Noda, not to the Fukushima 50. He gets more of the credit than they do, despite his wooden acknowledgement to the men, that “Thanks to your dedication, we have managed to preserve Japan.” This is one of the tragic flaws of modern Japan. The media attention is always focused on those in power, who typically do nothing to merit the recognition. The multitudes on the frontline, who put their heads down and do all the hard work are treated as faceless, nameless and ultimately forgotten. [emphasis mine]
What can one say? It is a horrible reality of irresponsibility and hubris. This is an incident in which much noise should be made and I doubt Japanese are so inclined. The rough and ready Western Culture seems better able to confront such injustice ... NO that is not true. We remain as silence in face of such tragedy, to our own shame.