The Forgotten Heroes of Fukushima

A disabled man being given a bath at a hot spring by caregiver Wataru Kuwashima, of the Minori-kai organization, photographed near tsunami-ravaged Natori, about 50 miles from Fukushima. Photo by James Nachtwey

A disabled man being given a bath at a hot spring by caregiver Wataru Kuwashima, of the Minori-kai organization, photographed near tsunami-ravaged Natori, about 50 miles from Fukushima. Photo by James Nachtwey

Ever since the tsunami triggered a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March, Japanese workers—some 18,000 to date—have been heading into the radioactive exclusion zone to work on the cleanup. Pico Iyer trails radiation expert Dr. Robert Gale, a veteran of Chernobyl and nearly every major nuclear disaster since, to learn who these anonymous heroes in HAZMAT suits are, what motivates them, and the danger they calmly accept.

James Nachtwey photographed many of the brave Japanese citizens who are putting themselves at risk to try to stabilize the contaminated reactors.

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