Japanese Seniors: Send Us To Damaged Nuclear Plant Since Japan's nuclear accident in March, about 500 Japanese seniors have signed up to work at the dangerous plant. They say it's better that they risk their lives than the younger workers at a job that has been called courageous — and suicidal.
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Japanese Seniors: Send Us To Damaged Nuclear Plant

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Japanese Seniors: Send Us To Damaged Nuclear Plant

Japanese Seniors: Send Us To Damaged Nuclear Plant

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Japan's new government faces a daunting array of problems stemming from last spring's deadly earthquake and tsunami, among them, rebuilding northeastern Japan and compensating victims. There's also the dangerous cleanup effort now under way at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and Lucy Craft reports that on that count the government is getting an unusual offer of help.

LUCY CRAFT: One of the newest members is Keiko Noda(ph). At 57, she says she has no qualms about working at the still unstable and dangerously irradiated nuclear plant.

KEIKO NODA: (Foreign language spoken)

CRAFT: She says: I want to do anything I can to help, whatever is necessary. Another grandmother ready to serve is 72 year old Kazuko Sasaki.

KAZUKO SASAKI: (Foreign language spoken)

CRAFT: His decision to gather senior volunteers, he says, was based neither on courage nor altruism, but on a brutally realistic calculus. Better to send men and women in the sunset of their lives, who have finished raising their families, than younger workers whose lives would be cut short by extreme radiation exposure.

YASUTERU YAMADA: (Foreign language spoken)

CRAFT: At 72, Yamada is hard of hearing and a lymphoma survivor. His near-death experience has shaped the mission to serve at Fukushima.

YAMADA: (Foreign language spoken)

CRAFT: For NPR News, this is Lucy Craft in Tokyo.

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