(Version française ici) - (Sorry for mistakes, English is not my mother language...)
The first to intervene at the most terrible moments of the nuclear disaster.
Those who - day after day - are up against
an ever-worsening situation.
Those who will have to replace them
for many years to come.
To their families and loved ones.
This is a message of gratitude and sympathy from France.
This may only be a meagre consolation to you, but many thousands of kilometers away, complete strangers, ordinary citizens like you are thinking of you and are grateful for your courage and your dedication.
You are important people who deserve every respect, given the responsibilities you are constantly shouldering and what you are accomplishing, without recognition or reward.
One can't blame the worker who unplugged the wrong pipe, pressed the wrong button or caused a tank to overflow, because of a lack of training, precise instructions and means of control.
One can't blame the worker who falls into depression when he is confronted by difficult working conditions that endanger his health and his life?
There are probably, throughout the world, thousands if not millions of people like us who are on your side and count on you, who offer you their trust and moral support, and who don’t forget you exist.
We don’t know you personally, but like you, we are human beings and citizens of the Earth. We are aware of your difficult position, we cannot do much to help you, but we want to say thank you for what you do, thank you for the risks you are taking for us all. You have our heartfelt support.
Thank you, "Fukushima 50" and all the brave people who from the very beginning of the disaster did not hesitate to risk their lives to prevent an even more dire situation.
Thank you to all these people whose name will never get mentioned but who contribute each day to the colossal task of keeping the radioactive peril at the Fukushima plant in check.
May our moral support and our thoughts reach you, your families, and the loved ones of the victims who have lost their health and their lives in this battle.
An die Arbeiter im Atomkraftwerk Fukushima
To the workers of Fukushima
A los trabajadores de Fukushima
Al la laboristoj de Fukushima
Aux travailleurs de Fukushima
Ai lavoratori di Fukushima
Aan de werknemers van Fukushima
Aos trabalhadores de Fukushima
Работникам на Фукусиме
It's up to you ...
Tyvek is a material made from non-woven polyethylene fibres, a fortuitous discovery of the DuPont company in the 1950s. It is the constituent of white or sometimes blue protective suits, intended to be worn by all the workers involved on the Fukushima Daiichi site and decontamination sites in controled areas. This type of combination is widely used in many industrial or craft activities as disposable protective clothing against dirt.
They do not protect either against risk caused by faulty adjustment of all protective elements of the outfit, due to missing or insufficient instructions, or inadequate equipment parts. Be remembered for example of the workers irradiated in March 2011 in the reactor 3 building unit flooded with highly contaminated water they waded, having seeped between their low boots and the ill-fitting outfit. On the other hand, it should be noted that "for photos", where their colleagues hiding them behind a tarp during their evacuation to receive care, everyone seems well sealed and stuck around. Or almost...
So here is the only armor against radiation available to the vast majority of workers in Fukushima: polyethylene overalls. Full tyvek jacket ...
Although a bit long, I suggest you to look at the following conference held in December 2011, in which Mr. Suzuki describes his experience at the Fukushima plant, with some photos and video footage taken on the spot . The two main themes are:
- The state of the plant, despite the official declaration of "cold shutdown," the risks to workers and the shortcomings of TEPCO and the Japanese government.
- Involvement for many years of the Yakuza mafia organizations in the Japanese nuclear industry.
"My parents who live a small town facing pacific in Hokkaido, Japan, once had an opportunity to host a homeless person in their house. He was looking for a one night shelter in the small town in Hokkaido with no money. The old man used to be working in various power plants in Japan and when he would reach his maximum annual dose of radiation he would leave the site and start travel around Japan. He ended up in Hokkaido at that time after working somewhere and found himself with no money. After one night he left for Aomori, the northern tip of Honshu island, with some money my father gave for train fare. I suppose many workers have been living like the man, working in various power plants sites in Japan since the very beginning of Japan's nuclear history. They are not the people who are rightly protected and well paid for their dangerous nature of the work. It is the shadow of the nuclear history of Japan and I am glad you mentioned about them in your blog!
I just asks my mother who is now with us about the old guy they hosted. Apparently the man came to the local catholic church to look for a shelter, which means he knew very well that religious temples and churches were likely to give money or shelter for him. But people in the church didn't do so and called my father to deal with him (my parents are catholic). My father took him to the house and offered one night shelter, with dinner and drinks and bath. My mother says they have already hosted many people (mostly hitchhiker on the streets) at their place so didn't surprise her that time, too. My father is really a strange kind…. The man said that he had an apartment in Tokyo, but they didn't buy the story, as well as his claim that his money had been stolen. He would stay in one place and work, earn money, and hitchhike all around Japan. I think many construction workers are temporary sub contractors, and sometimes employers give food and shelter (of course they cost money, subtracted from the daily pay) for those in need. The man my parents hosted was probably one of those workers.
Now I have seen some advertisement for recruiting workers and they are like 13,000 yen a day, but I don't think it it true. Workers usually have to pay for contractors fees, a bed and food, even for the health check ( I read it in the article I posted in the FB page). At last the money they receive should be much lower than the advertised. I remembered the story somehow because it happened after 3.11. It was kind of interesting".
I think it would be unfair not to mention also those which are often early in the frontline of disasters, the firefighters, and the military. Certainly, they are more likely to chose their profession without being picked up in some shallows by the Yakuza. But whether in Ukraine or Japan, how many of them paid with their lives for their willingness to fight a battle in which they were not prepared, and brought relief to others? We'll never know, it's not in the interest of any government or authority to recognize and disclose exactly such kind of things when it comes to nuclear power.
However, here is a testimony about the death of a member of the special rescue unit of firefighters, who has not been officially confirmed or reported in the mainstream media. It includes Taro Yamamoto, who had not yet paid policy. Since that, some also tries to make him pay a high price for the truths he tries to highlight ...
The English transcript is available following this link.
Here are just "The nuclear convicts", a photo-montage made in August 2011, based on pictures by Vincent Capman. He also worked with men he photographed in Cattenom and Paluel French NPP in 2008 and 2009. He shared their lives, their workdays, their rest periods.
One last question :
Is it what you want
for your children too,
"full tyvek jacket" ?
Write your own support message if you prefer, and distribute it as well.
You can also write a traditional letter, here is the mailing address of the "rear base" of workers at J-Village. It features Japanese mention "To the Fukushima workers". The easiest way is probably to print it directly or stick it on the envelope.
Don't forget that the majority of recipients only read Japanese. But there are drawings, symbols, which do not need to understand a foreign language.
Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters at J-Village
8, Utsukushi-mori, Yamada-oka aza
Naraha-machi oaza, Futaba-gun
Please Check with your local post office for postage fees.
If we multiply enough and relay this movement of fraternal support, if enough media to echo, then maybe this will encourage Japan to make a move for these brave men. One can always dream ...
Acknowledgments and credits:
Big thanks to all those without whom I couldn't have finally give life to this project.
Thank you of course to the participants, which help spread this message, and I have been an indispensable aid among other translations.
Thank you to Cathy, Janick, Pectine, Odile, SB, Akio, Georges Laurent, Pierre, Pierre R. Dandoy, Paolo, the team from Afaz site. I hope not to forget anyone, if that's the case, let me know.
Special thanks to those who preferred to remain "anonymous valuable contributors" for their decisive participation, they will recognize themselves.
Special Report: Japan's homeless recruited for murky Fukushima clean-up
Appreciate Fukushima Workers, the initiative of a former worker of Fukushima in assisting other workers. (Jp)
Former TEPCO employee seeks donations for downtrodden Fukushima workers
Réservoirs de Fukushima : fuyards et construits par des travailleurs illégaux (Reuters UK traduction Google)
Press Release (Nov 29,2013) Exposure Dose Evaluation of the Workers at Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear-News, TEPCO-Workers deaths are not reported 報道されない原発作業員の死亡について
Riva Press, photographies de Vincent Capman
The Guardian, Life as a Fukushima clean-up worker – radiation, exhaustion, public criticism
PBS, For Fukushima Workers, Cancer Isn’t the Only Health Threat
The Telegraph, How the Yakuza went nuclear
Kibo-promesse, Yakuza et nucléaire au japon
Russia Today, Atomic Mafia? Yakuza cleans up Fukushima, neglects basic workers' rights
CCTV English, workers say decontamination work ineffective
Reuters Insider, Help Wanted: Must be willing to work at nuclear ground zero
Japanfocus, Nuclear workers down and out at Fukushima
Enenews, ‘Nuclear Slaves’ at Fukushima
Enenews, Multiples cancers for ex-Fukushima worker
Reuters, Help wanted in Fukushima: low pay, high risks and gansters
Témoignage original de Satoko en anglais
Enformable, Chairman of Japanese nuclear regulator blames declining worker morale for Fukushima leaks and problems
Nobody, pointing a finger at Fukushima 1 webcam
The Independent, 'I am one of the Fukushima fifty'
BBC, Why Japan's 'Fukushima 50' remain unknown
The Guardian, Fukushima 50: 'We felt like kamikaze pilots ready to sacrifice everything'
Wikipedia, Fukushima 50 (En)
Wikipédia, Les cinquante de Fukushima
Agoravox, Fukushima : Les travailleurs se cachent pour mourir
Courrier International, Les ouvriers de Fukushima "invités" à truquer leurs dosimètres
Europe 1, Le "héros" de Fukushima est mort
Gen4, L'incroyable histoire des "50 de Fukushima"
Kibo Promesse, les enfants japonais parlent de Fukushima
Culturebox, Fukushima à travers 400 dessins d'enfants japonais