Very few people would risk their health to take care of animals after a nuclear meltdown, but that is exactly what farmer Naoto Matsumura has been doing for the past four years. Ever since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Matsumura has been living in Tomioka, a small town is a few miles from the nuclear power plant, where he tends to the animals left behind.
He initially left the town with his family after it was evacuated, but he returned soon after to feed the dogs. He found many of the villager’s pets starving and tethered in their yards, because people had left them behind, believing they would be home soon. Of course, that did not happen.
Instead, Matsumura soon became the sole provider for not only dogs but cats, cows, ostriches and the other animals left behind.
Over the years, he has relied on donations (including donations of water) to care for his animal charges. Although he is subject to high amounts of radiation daily, he “refuses to worry about it.”
The 55-year-old said, “They also told me that I wouldn’t get sick for 30 or 40 years. I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway, so I couldn’t care less”. He does, however, take the precaution of only eating food imported into the zone.
In the video interview with Vice a few years ago, Matsumura explains why he became the animals’ steward and refused to abandon them.
His efforts have earned him the title of “Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals”. What a remarkable and courageous man!
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