Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Concord prize has been awarded to Japanese workers who have been battling to stabilise the Fukushima nuclear plant, ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March.
The jury said despite major uncertainty, the ‘Heroes of Fukushima’ carried on in extreme conditions, putting their lives in danger.
Many workers became ill from radiation exposure but continued in their efforts to regain control of the reactors nonetheless.
They have been nicknamed the ‘Fukushima 50’ after the 50 personnel who originally stayed behind at the beginning of the crisis.
The Heroes of Fukushima are made up of volunteers from the Tokyo Electric Company which operates the plant, firefighters from all over Japan and military personnel who helped cool the reactors by dropping water from helicopters.
The award citation said these people embody the Japanese sense of duty and personal sacrifice for the greater good, and dignity in the face of adversity, humility, generosity and courage.