April 28, 2011,14:22 +0900(JST) Glorious Special Award for Group Personnel Working on Post-Disaster Restoration
In the wake of the devastating Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, there are many Sumitomo Electric Group personnel working selflessly to restore damaged facilities, despite extremely difficult daily conditions in the affected areas. I am truly grateful to and proud of them.
I was particularly touched by the bravery of nine individuals who voluntarily engaged in nuclear power plant restoration-related operations, demonstrating their strong sense of duty toward society in the face of this national crisis and serious challenge to the electricity supply, a major pillar of Japan's economic life. To honor them, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. and Sumitomo Densetsu Co., Ltd. have jointly presented them with the Glorious Special Award.
The Sumitomo Electric Group Global Award Ceremony was inaugurated in FY 2006 to honor the personnel who served society in accord with the Sumitomo Spirit and the Sumitomo Electric Group Corporate Principles. This time, deeply moved by the devotion of these people, we created a "Special" category of the Glorious Award to be presented to them.
The nine awardees were each presented with a letter of appreciation, a trophy and a supplementary prize, and a small banquet was held in their honor. The awardees are: Mr. Ishiyama (Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.), Mr. Terada (Sumiden Dengyo Co., Ltd.) and Messrs. Toyoshima, Ojima, Akita, Takeda, Suganumata, Kuraya and Katsumata (Line Engineering Co., Ltd.).
The restoration they performed was necessitated following failure of the communication circuit linking Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station with national government organizations and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Head Office. Upon receiving the request for emergency restoration, on March 18 the personnel commenced restoring the OPGW (optical ground wire) installed at the highest part of an electric pylon located 10 km from Fukushima Daiichi-- that is, within the evacuation zone. The OPGW is an extremely important optical fiber communication circuit housed in a lightning-arrester earthing line (overhead ground wire) to protect high-voltage electric power transmission lines from lightning strikes.
The operation lasted about 15 hours, punctuated by aftershocks and challenged by the cold weather at a height of 70 meters above ground. They did a remarkable job, demonstrating true professionalism.
While I talked with the awardees during the banquet, behind their casual words I could sense the pride and confidence they had in their work: when asked how long an emergency evacuation would take, one answered "just a few minutes" while in reality it would normally take one hour. Another said nonchalantly that he could have stood on his hands at that height.
They said that they volunteered to participate in the emergency restoration operation because they had trust in each other that had been built through their usual duties. On the other hand, some of them left for the site without saying anything to their families, so as not to worry them too much. Once the operation was completed, the personnel underwent physical checks, which detected no problem. We who had sent them to the site were quite relieved.
On that day, as I prayed that such disasters - which sent shock waves throughout the world - would not be repeated, I was once again strongly reminded that our Group, and even all of Japanese society, is supported by people like these awardees, who pursue and complete their work with such a strong sense of responsibility.