Back in 2011, a tsunami and an earthquake-triggered hydrogen explosions, a series of nuclear meltdowns, and the release of radioactive contamination in Fukushima Japan. These unfortunate events caused the residents to abandon their homes and leave everything they had behind.
After the nuclear meltdowns, there were no plans to rescue the animals trapped in the area.With not much food and water around, most people would think that the animals had no way of surviving. However, a decade after the incident, researchers found out that wildlife populations continue to thrive in the area.
And the most surprising part?
Two men remained in Fukushima to take care of the abandoned animals there.
Sakae Kato and Naoto Matsumura, unrelated to each other, live within the 12.5-mile exclusion zone of the damaged reactor. There, they take care of stray animals that were left behind when humans evacuated the town.
At first, Matsumura went away from the city just like everyone else.
“I didn’t mean to stay at first. I grabbed my family and escaped”
Unfortunately, he was turned away by his relatives who live in other cities. They were afraid of the possible contamination. The evacuation camps didn’t look promising, too. They were filling up fast and their resources were running short.
When he came back, he realized that the family’s animals were still waiting to be fed.
“Our dogs didn’t get fed for the first few days. When I did eventually feed them, the neighbors’ dogs started going crazy. I went over to check on them and found that they were all still tied up. Everyone in town left thinking they would be back home in a week or so, I guess.”
Realizing that they didn’t have any humans around to look after them, he decided to stay.
From then on, he’s been feeding all the dogs and cats every day. He’s taking care of the huge community of animals in the abandoned city.
After returning, Matsumura was concerned about the effects of radiation on his body. There’s the risk of cancer and other serious health problems. However, these days, he’s no longer worrying about them.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency told Matsumura that he probably wouldn’t get sick for a couple of years. They estimated that the effects would kick in after 30 to 40 years.
To this, he responded:
“I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway, so I couldn’t care less.”
A lot of people wondered why he decided to return and stay. After all, the risks are still there.
The farmer said:
“I’m full of rage. That’s why I’m still here. I refuse to leave and let go of this anger and grief. I weep when I see my hometown. The government and the people in Tokyo don’t know what’s really happening here.”
On the other hand, Kato chose to live in his home in the mountains.
There, he’s taking care of more than 40 cats and a stray dog he adopted. He’s also feeding abandoned animals that visit his place, including the local wild boars.
“I want to make sure I am here to take care of the last one. After that I want to die, whether that be a day or hour later.”
These two men continue to care for the animals in the area. They aren’t afraid to risk their lives. For them, the animals’ lives matter.