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A nuclear meltdown in Japan? Not if these brave workers can help it.

Dozens of workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex have stayed behind to end the radiation leaks and prevent a meltdown. They could be the heros of this crisis.

By Clayton Jones / March 15, 2011

A picture taken last August shows a fuel storage pool inside the Fukushima plant. The reactor is behind the pool. Four of the six reactors at the plant have now overheated and sparked explosions since the earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems.

(Credit: JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom/File)

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One noble trait that the Japanese admire is gaman. It is their word for the ability to persevere, endure, and overcome, with patience.

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Right now a few dozen workers at the seaside Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex have decided to stay put, rather than flee, in order to curtail the radiation leaks caused by Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Even if they don't succeed, Japan may remember them for their gaman despite personal exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.

The explosions at the plant have already left one worker dead, and injured many more. Two remain missing. Officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which owns the atomic power complex, are now so desperate that they plan to throw water from a helicopter on radioactive rods that are exposed.

About 750 of the plant's workers have been sent away in recent days, but a crew of about 50 o 70 remain, trying to stabilize the reactors and put out any fires. They may be Japan's biggest heroes in this crisis so far.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan rightly hailed those workers, saying they “are putting themselves in a very dangerous situation.” That may be the first of many accolades to come.

But for now, they need all the gaman they can muster.

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