Asahi Shinbun (9:00AM JST 4/10/2011) has a special report on the "Fukushima 50".
An interesting segment in the report written by Asahi's reporters Hiroaki Kojima, and Ryujiro Komatsu about non-TEPCO workers at the plant (my quick translation, not Asahi's; they don't have it in English yet):
"How many are you going to send? Show us your resolve."
Right after the earthquake, in the conference room of a group company of Hitachi, nuclear reactor manufacturer. A manager in charge of the division that does the work at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant demanded from the employee in the technical management division. Instead of issuing orders and direction from a distance, they [technical management division] should be joining him and his people at the plant and face the challenge together. After a heated exchange, many employees with technical background went to the plant.
The middle managers of the company reflected on this decision as "a grave decision", as the work would put the employees life on the line.
A 40-year-old man who went to work at the plant from one of TEPCO's affiliate company confided, "I didn't want to go but if I declined [the company] wouldn't get future jobs [from TEPCO]." His daily wage was ten thousand yen plus a few thousand yen [more than 10,000, probably less than 15,000]. "I heard that there were workers who were hired for several tens of thousands of yen per hour for construction work [or from the construction industry, not clear]. But since my company is TEPCO's regular affiliate, we only receive our normal daily wage."
On the other hand, many of his colleagues volunteered, thinking they would be the only ones [who could solve the problems at the plant]. "There was a strong sense of solidarity," the man said.
At one company who is a subcontractor [doesn't say at which level], older managing directors and the president of the company volunteered, saying "We can do the simple tasks like laying cables." It was their decision to shield their younger workers [from potential harm from radiation]. In Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant, which has been relatively stable compared to Fukushima I, we hear that even a young woman who was hired right after graduating from high school works the night shift [or works and sleeps at the plant].
ある下請けの工事会社では、高齢の専務や社長たちが作業に名乗り出た。「俺たちだって簡単なケーブルの敷設作業ぐらいはできる」。若い作業員の将来を思 い、盾になると決意した。比較的安定している第二原発では、地元の高校を出て採用された若い女性も泊まり込みで勤務しているという。（小島寛明、小松隆次 郎）