Naoto Matsumura is a Japanese farmer living in the Japanese city of Tomioka. He is the only person who lives in this city. Tomioka is located just 9.5 km from the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.
After the devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis in 2011, the government had to evacuate the population of the small town at an urgent pace. Naoto left with his parents but then began to worry about the animals they abandoned. Not wanting his cattle to starve, he jumped into a pickup truck and headed back to Tomioka, one of the most radioactive sites in Japan.
When he got there, he was shocked – so many animals were left to their fate. The government assured people that they would be able to return to their homes soon, so the terrified residents left their dogs and cats in the city. Naoto drove around the city, rescuing all the animals and leaving them enough food and water.
Many farmers lived in Tomioka, and the cattle they abandoned were dying. Inside one barn, Naoto found 120 cows that had starved to death. The government eventually decided to destroy all the animals for humanity reasons, but Naoto volunteered to take care of them. He built a corral for 31 cows – it is quite comfortable for the animals there. In addition to cattle, Naoto looks after two cats, a dog, four wild pigs, and even an ostrich.
His life is quite difficult. There is no electricity in the city, so Naoto has to turn off generators at night and use solar panels to charge his cell phone and laptop. Life support was one of the most important issues – in particular, Naoto ate contaminated food and drank contaminated water. Now that he has gained media attention, he receives humanitarian aid and occasionally travels to a nearby town for food and gas.
The biggest problem is radiation. Today, Tomioka is already relatively safe, but Naoto managed to receive the highest level of radiation exposure in Japan. However, the doctors said that for another 30 or 40 years, Naoto would not be sick, so he stopped worrying about cancer and focused on animals. He decided: “In any case, I am already dead, but I can save the life of at least someone.”