Forums > Personal > Japan's elderly volunteer to replace workers at crippled nuke plants

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queenUSA user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 31 May 11, 22:06 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I saw this story today on CNN: 
Retirees in Japan are mounting a campaign to replace
workers at the crippled nuclear plants because they say they do not fear dying and the problems
need to be brought under control.  These persons are former engineers and such who are
willing to take on the plants.  At first Tepco dismissed them, but now they are in "talks"
about it.  They gave amazing justifications such as the following:
1) It can take decades to develop cancer - and alot of time is something they do no
feel they have to worry about so they fear the effects of radiation exposure less.
2) They feel they are part of the generation that was a proponent of nuclear energy and
feel a responsibility to bring it under control.

To me their attitudes and self-sacrifice are nothing short of amazing.

What are your thoughts about this?


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Posted: 31 May 11, 23:22 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sacrificing one's self for the good of the group is very, very typical of several eastern Asian cultures, and a fascinating contrast to the general individualism of the west. I think any sensitivities to such a proposal would be almost entirely political rather than social as these impulses would be well understood in Japan.  There are many positives, but collectivist beliefs have a dark side too.  The current crisis has among other things resulted in pressures to stay in place and face dangers for the sake of group solidarity.  Most tragically it's seen a reprisal of the shunning and rejection of radiation affected people in fear that they are now fundamentally damaged and that they will pollute others.  Hibakusha 2.0.  Very sad.

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Posted: 01 Jun 11, 00:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

GratefulFan wrote:

Sacrificing one's self for the good of the group is very, very typical of several eastern Asian cultures, and a fascinating contrast to the general individualism of the west.

===================

To me that's the most important part of this story.

In the west we've long forgotten how to care for one another.  Here we know individual pursuit of money and material things, and little else.  At best, what's happening in Japan is a mere ideal in the west.  But in Japan, this is the norm.  Paint my face envious and in awe.


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Posted: 01 Jun 11, 10:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

They must be a very close-knit group who came up through lots of youthful idealism, as their generation came of age in post-nuclear trauma and faced opposition to their chosen career defending the use of containable nuclear energy. For sure this idealism will last as long as the graying population holds out. These days more individualist 20/30-somethings who labored in the long shadow of economic instability are less likely to subscribe to the same selfless sacrifice in this exact style of group (=old japan?) solidarity.
Yes, very awe-inspiring yet sad. For better or worse it brings back the images of their elders' sacrifice in the name of the country.

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Posted: 01 Jun 11, 17:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

jaq wrote:

For sure this idealism will last as long as the graying population holds out. These days more individualist 20/30-somethings who labored in the long shadow of economic instability are less likely to subscribe to the same selfless sacrifice in this exact style of group (=old japan?) solidarity.

===============

I guess that remains to be told.  But I'm optimistic that it will translate to the younger generation, especially after this year's disaster.  These people stick together through thick and thin, and I don't think the ways of the west will infect them any time soon.


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Posted: 01 Jun 11, 18:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It needs to be appreciated that it's not just selflessness and loyalty to the group, though that is both expected and celebrated.  It also about pressure to conform and the tendency for the group to pound down the nails that stick up.  That is not always positive.

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Posted: 01 Jun 11, 19:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Well if you watch enough tv they tend to summarize in sound bites so they have now
dubbed these elderly heroes "The Suicide Corps".

We'll have to see if they will be allowed to help.

It seems I remember that the elderly are revered in Japan and looked on with much
affection.  I remember after the last terribe earthquake after days and days they pulled
out an elederly man and the emotional doctor tending him patted his head to comfort him and
told him "do not worry now, you are safe little father."  The instinct to protect runs deep.

A rewerse effect may take root - that the young will not allow this sacrifice to occur due
a great shame they may feel about allowing the after effects of the disaster to also 
shake loose the very fabric of the societal values they hold so dear in Japan. 
There is something to protect in that.


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Posted: 01 Jun 11, 22:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

GratefulFan wrote:

It also about pressure to conform and the tendency for the group to pound down the nails that stick up.  That is not always positive.

=========================

You raise a good point, but I don't think it even crosses their minds.  We need to try and separate our western thinking from the situation.  Who says pressure and/or conformity are even an issue?

As far as I can see it, in Japanese society the individual almost doesn't exist in the name of the group.  It strikes me as genuine selflessness - a very hard concept for us material-obsessed folks in the west to grasp.

I have Asian friends who live this kind of lifestyle of sacrificing everything for their family (no matter how irrational or irrational, or who is right or wrong), and I personally think it's insane.  But that's just because I'm a conditioned western ignoramus.  At the end of the day I admire these people and can only wish from a distance that I will develop a fraction of those qualities myself.


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Posted: 02 Jun 11, 03:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Don't we wish that the management of TEPCO were similarly selfless and committed to the greater good? Instead of lying, downplaying the extent of the danger, denying the victims any compensation  and shifting the costs to the public.


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Posted: 02 Jun 11, 20:11 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sir GH wrote:

=========================

You raise a good point, but I don't think it even crosses their minds.  We need to try and separate our western thinking from the situation.  Who says pressure and/or conformity are even an issue?

As far as I can see it, in Japanese society the individual almost doesn't exist in the name of the group.  It strikes me as genuine selflessness - a very hard concept for us material-obsessed folks in the west to grasp.

=======================

If only it were all that lovely. :)  But it's just not the case.  The Japanese themselves recognize harmony and pressures to conform as hallmarks of their society, and it's the subject of philosophical debate and ambiguous feelings in the same way that some features of western life are here.  Nothing, sadly, is perfect.

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Posted: 03 Jun 11, 17:13 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

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