The effort to clean up and shut down Japan’s crippled, leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility will be long and dangerous. Just this week, two more workers in their 30s and 40s were reportedly exposed to potentially deadly amounts of radiation. That’s nonsense, says a group of 250 over-60 retired engineers and other professionals with a strong sense of “sacrificial spirit.” This selfless Skilled Veterans Corps — dubbed the “suicide corps” — is lobbying to take over the cleanup effort to spare Japan’s younger workers. So far, Japan’s government has declined the group’s offer. But should it reconsider?

This is from a June 2011 article that I somehow missed. It’s not necessarily voluntarism in the sense that the older engineers wouldn’t be paid: I’m guessing that they would. But it’s touching and neat nevertheless.

As a bonus, it warms the cockles of an economist’s efficiency-seeking heart. We generally like to see lower-cost solutions to problems. And the older engineers think, with some reason, that they are lower cost. Here’s how one of them, age 72, puts it in a companion article:

“Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop,” Yamada said. “Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer.”