We do not know their names, their faces, their families or their personal stories. Nobody really does. They are strangers, in a faraway land, doing the unthinkable.
In Japan they have a name: The Fukushima 50. A coterie of nuclear plant employees - some reports indicate 50, others suggest four working rotations of 50 - who stayed behind while 700 of their co-workers were evacuated from the stricken Fukushima-Daiichi facility on the Japanese coast.
Five have been killed. Two are missing. Twenty-one have been injured in a struggle where, in the words of Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan, "retreat is unthinkable."
The men understand the stakes. They know there is no turning back. One worker told a departing colleague he was prepared to die - that it was his job. Another informed his wife he wouldn't be coming home anytime soon.
And so they battle on, a weary bunch of managers, operators, technicians, soldiers, firemen, amid rumours, worst-case scenarios and startling television footage.
They are mid- and low-level employees. They are men with no names, cast into extraordinary circumstances, battling fires, explosions, the threat of explosion and the invisible menace: dangerously high levels of radiation no protective suit can deflect, and one that threatens to seep into the atmosphere if they fail.
The number of shoplifting cases accounted for nearly 10 pct of all criminal offenses recognized by Japanese police, with the rate increasing, a National Police Agency survey showed Wednesday. (Jiji Press)