Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Tenacious lot those Japanese. You will remember the Japanese soldier who fought on after the Second World war, finally surrendering some twenty nine years after the war was over. Apparently his orders were:

"You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we'll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that's the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily."

So he lived on coconuts for twenty nine years.

Recently their country was devastated by a Tsunami which has caused a major nuclear disaster through damaging a reactor which is left in a highly volatile and critical state.

Ideally, people need to go in there to try to put things right but the likelihood of radioactive contamination would seem to make this unfeasible.

Their response has been to raise an army of volunteers comprising pensioners with the necessary skills including retired academics, crane and bulldozer operators, construction workers, welders and engineers.

These amazing people, recognising that younger workers would face the danger of suffering illness, impotence and even death, feel that their own lives, being almost over, are worth risking for the sake of their nation.

No funny quips to end with... I am just in absolute awe of their heroism.

(Image courtesy of John Kasawa)

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