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I felt dismay and sadness — but not shock! — when I read of the risk of death faced by the brave Tokyo Electric Power Co. workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant (“Nuke workers at risk of overwork death,” April 20 article). Why not shock? Because this country has a long-held belief in sacrificing the individual for “others” — be they the state, the government, the company or the people. We only need remind ourselves of the kamikaze of the Second World War and the ongoing spate of karoshi (deaths from overwork). Surely, in this postmodern society, such a philosophy should have been abolished and discarded long ago.

I give thanks and praise to Dr. Takeshi Tanigawa (cited in the article) for his sterling work for the “90” brave and duty-bound Tepco workers, to The Japan Times for headlining this tragic story and, most of all, to the 90 heroes of this Fukushima tale.

It is imperative for Tepco and the government to ensure that these brave people are not sacrificed on the altar of this traditional Japanese “culture,” but are given maximum physical and mental support to carry on with their work. If Japan loses these people to “tradition,” it will lose the respect and good wishes of the world. Care for them and, most of all, relieve them of this terrible duty as soon as replacements can be found.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

paul gaysford

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