Dressed in a hazardous materials suit, full-face mask and hard hat, Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, left his audience in no doubt: "The future of Japan," he said, "rests on your shoulders. I am counting on you."
Abe's exhortation, delivered during a recent visit to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was only heard by a small group of men inside the plant's emergency control room. But it was directed at almost 6,000 more: the technicians and engineers, truck drivers and builders who, almost three years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown, remain on the frontline of the world's most dangerous industrial cleanup.
Yet as the scale of the challenge has become clearer with every new accident and radiation leak, the men working inside the plant are suffering from plummeting morale, health problems and anxiety about the future, according to insiders interviewed by the Guardian.
~ from Plummeting Morale at Fukushima Daiichi as Nuclear Cleanup Takes Its Toll by Justin McCurry ~
What Abe said to the men risking life and limb to cleanup this horrific nuclear disaster is not that alike what many leaders say to their brave men and women sent off to war. Just like in a war, many of the circumstances at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were set in motion by politicians and corporate bigwigs. In other words, the calamity was intensified by those driven by greed and power, but the work required to clean up the mess is borne by the powerless.
It has been this way all throughout human history. Even back in the days of Laozi and Zhuangzi, the rulers drew up the plans for conquest, but it was mainly poor conscripts who did the fighting...and dying.
It has often been noted that if the rich and powerful had to fight their own battles, they would be few and far between. If George W. Bush and Dick Cheney personally had led the troops into Iraq or Afghanistan, do you think these "wars" would have lasted so long or even taken place at all? If Barack Obama had to put his boot on the ground, do you think we would have bombed Libya?
If truth be known, Shinzo Abe is incorrect. The future of Japan (or the world) does NOT rest on the shoulders of the workers cleaning up Fukushima. No, it rests on the shoulders of leaders like Shinzo Abe. If they continue to put their lust for ever more power and profit before anything else, it merely sets the stage for future disasters. It is leaders like Abe and corporate CEOs who hold the cards!