After Fukushima this Town was Abandoned but One Man Returned to Care for the Animals
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011, an exclusion zone was established and everyone within a 20 km (12 mile) radius was ordered to evacuate.
Tomioka, a community of 16,000 people, was located inside the exclusion zone, a mere 13 km (8 mi) from Fukushima. The entire town was abandoned as people fled the radioactive area for nearby shelters. Four years later the town remains empty and has become a ghost town save for one resident, Naoto Matsumura.
When the Fukushima disaster occurred, Matsumura initially fled with all of the other residents. But the shelters were overcrowded and he couldn’t help feeling despondent knowing he had abandoned the animals on his family’s farm. So Matsumura decided to return to Tomioka to take care of the animals and live in his home he had spent his entire life in.
In addition to his own animals, Matsumura rounded up other abandoned cattle and livestock from nearby farms, taking care of them and feeding them with money and food that had been donated by others. Matsumura knew the risks but we has happier to be back in his home versus living in a shelter, completely displaced.
According to an interview with Vice, Matsumura is being bombarded with as much as 17 times the amount of radiation a normal person is. However, after being examined by medical researchers and scientists he was told that despite his exposure he would not get sick from the radiation for up to 30-40 years. “I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway, so I couldn’t care less,” Matsumura told Vice.
Matsumura says many of the dogs and cats have gone semi-feral but the cattle remain domestic, living in abandoned rice paddies and penned in by fences Naoto has constructed out of pipes. The town’s sole inhabitant, now famously known as the “guardian of Fukushima’s animals”, has no intention of leaving and plans on remaining in Tomioka for as long as his health allows.
Facebook: Naoto Matsumura
Vice: Radioactive Man
BBC: Inside Japan’s nuclear ghost zone
Bored Panda: The Radioactive Man Who Returned To Fukushima To Feed The Animals
South China Morning Post: Meet Japan’s most radioactive man and his animals
Facebook: Keiko Nasu
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