Good Read: The Tohoku 18,000

Back in the days immediately following the March 11 Tohoku disaster, reports appeared in the media of what was quickly termed “The Tohoku 50” to describe the nuclear power plane employees who stayed on-site and worked bravely, and perhaps suicidally, to limit the radiation crisis.

The workers who have been exposed to the Fukushima site now number some 18,000. In “Heroes of the Hot Zone” in the January, 2012 edition of Vanity Fair, long-term Japan resident writer Pico Iyer tails a controversial radiation specialist, Dr. Robert Gale, on his visit to the most affected region around the Fukushima Daiichi plant as he attempts to allay the fears of these workers. Iyer does an especially good job of capturing the voices of these anonymous men, and their sometimes complex motivations for putting themselves in harm’s way.


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