The spring of 2011 was a particularly brutal time to be in Fukushima, Japan, and its surrounding area. An earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear disaster followed each other one by one in a tragic domino effect that led most residents to evacuate.
In fact, only one man stayed behind. Naoto Matsumura, known by his nickname “Macchan,” realized there were those who weren”t able to run for safety and in need of special assistance in the aftermath: the animals.
He left the area during the earthquake, but returned following the tsunami, despite uncertain radiation concerns.
The fifth-generation farmer initially intended to just to feed his own animals, but when so many others began to show up hungry and malnourished, he couldn”t turn them away.
He has remained in the small town of Tomioka, a short seven miles away from the power plant, ever since to take care of the dogs, cats, cows, horses, and other animals left to fend for themselves.
When he first returned, he said many of the dogs were still tied up as if their owners thought they might return soon.
Four years later, the area is still deserted and he remains their sole caretaker.
He and the animals rely on kind donations from those outside of the exclusion zone.
And though he is a gentle man with a clear soft spot for all creatures, he says, “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.”
(via Metro, Facebook)
Hopefully some of Matsumura”s anger will be quelled by recent reports indicating it is safe for all residents to return to the area. Cleared for safety, apart from very small regions around the reactors, the radiation levels pose no threat to life, including in the water.
It will likely still take time for the town”s wounds to heal, but thanks to this amazing man, the animals that were left behind have a chance at a future, too.