Sea of Japan, 1996 by Hiroshi Sugimoto
Excerpts from article titled Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers by Keith Bradsher and Hiroko Tabuchi in the March 15, 2011 edition of the New York Times:
"A small crew of technicians, braving radiation and fire, became the only people remaining at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on Tuesday - and perhaps Japan's last chance of preventing a broader nuclear catastrophe."
. . . . . . . .
"The workers are being asked to make escalating - and perhaps existential - sacrifices that so far are being only implicitly acknowledged: Japan's Health Ministry said Tuesday it was raising the legal limit on the amount of radiation to which each worker could be exposed, to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts, five times the maximum exposure permitted for American nuclear plant workers"
. . . . . . . .
"Nuclear reactor operators say that their profession is typified by the same kind of esprit de corps found among firefighters and elite military units. Lunchroom conversations at reactors frequently turn to what operators would do in a severe emergency.
The consensus is always that they would warn their families to flee before staying at their posts to the end, said Michael Friedlander, a former senior operator at three American power plants for a total of 13 years.
"You're certainly worried about the health and safety of your family, but you have an obligation to stay at the facility," he said. "There is a sense of loyalty and camaraderie when you've trained with guys, you've done shifts with them for years."
Adding to this natural bonding, jobs in Japan confer identity, command loyalty and inspire a particularly fervent kind of dedication. Economic straits have chipped away at the hallowed idea of lifetime employment for many Japanese, but the workplace remains a potent source of community. Mr. Friedlander said that he had no doubt that in an identical accident in the United States, 50 volunteers could be found to stay behind after everyone else evacuated from an extremely hazardous environment. But Japanese are raised to believe that individuals sacrifice for the good of the group."