Japan’s Nuclear Power Plant Heroes Don’t Need Robots

The Tokyo Electric Power Company workers continue to put their lives in jeopardy in an effort to prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. There’s no question these selfless workers are heroes. But what is questionable, is why a country that is so technologically advanced would not have their power plants equipped with robots that exist to handle such crises.

The answer lies in part within the Japanese worker culture itself. The Japanese culture values selflessness, modesty and doing what is best for the whole of the group. In addition, despite being such a profound leader in technology, Japan still chooses to rely on humans for tasks that many other parts of the world have reduced human intervention to a minimum, such as operating elevators and warning motorists of road construction.

Other factors believed to be keeping robots out of many plants in Japan and around the world are budget constraints and denial that such serious situations are perhaps beyond human control.

The decision so far to not utilize robots and other automated technologies could create an image problem for TEPCO and Japan itself, especially if people do not properly understand the culture of the Japanese and their work ethic. It is imperative to understand cultural contexts and implications, especially when evaluating strategies and making decisions.

Do you think Japan should be using robots and other automated technologies as part of their solution when the hazards their workers are subjected to could prove fatal – even if this would undermine their cultural beliefs?

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Trish Wyatt.

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