Mr Matsumura is my absolute hero. He is a 52-year old rice farmer who is the last person inside the No Go zone in Tomioka, Japan. He has stayed behind to take care of the abandoned animals.
While others have been forced out of Fukushima’s 20km exclusion zone due to radiation dangers from the TEPCO Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Naoto-San has chosen to ignore Japanese law and remain behind to care for the animals.
Tomioka, once home to 16,000 people, is the only home Mr. Matsumura’s has ever known. He’s seen it change from lush farmland to a nuclear wasteland and ghost town. He is well aware of the dangers to his own health but, he won’t leave the animals behind. Aki, his dog is his constant companion, along with the cats and other animals who have been abandoned by Japan’s government.”Now it’s just me taking care of the animals.” he said to BBC News in September of 2011.Matsumura survives mostly on canned goods and dines by candle light, not for the romance of it but, because he has no electricity or running water. After almost one year, the Fukushima 20km exclusion zone has been largely forgotten by the western media.Six months after the disaster, Matsumra’s commented to the Associated Press, “We are already being forgotten,” said Matsumura, a leathery but clean-cut man with the sturdy build of a farmer. “The rest of the country has moved on. They don’t want to think about us.”More than 10 months after the disaster, many animal advocates around the world wondered why major media had walked away from this human and animal tragedy. Thankfully, CNN’s Kyung Lah, did a thoughtful and and compassionate interview and story with Matsumura the last week of January and it has since been shown on “Anderson Cooper’s 360” show as well.
In the CNN interview, Matsumura told Kyung Lah, “I’m full of rage,” says Matsumura. “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.”
Kyung Lah writes, “His defiance began with a simple desire to feed the animals on his farm. The government evacuated 78,000 residents around the exploding plant without a plan to rescue pets and valuable livestock.
As Matsumura began to feed his own animals, the neighborhood’s desperate cats and dogs started showing up. He started to feed them too and decided he couldn’t leave them behind to die. When Matsumura ran out of food, he slipped out of the exclusion zone and bought dog and cat food and then snuck back into town.
Weeks turned into months and now nearly a year. Conditions are growing worse by the day, says Matsumura.
This is more than just the story of one man standing up to the government. Naoto Matsumura makes up the best inside each of us. We send him our emotional support and want the world to remember the sacrifice he is making for the animals and for his beliefs. In an age of social media, one man’s story can easily be lost. It is our goal that this doesn’t happen to Naoto Matsumura. We hope you will feel the same way and join us to in showing our appreciation to this unique and courageous man. Naoto-San deserves much more than his 15 minutes of fame.
Here is a very good article on Mr Matsumura
I follow Mr Matsumura on his Facebook page here – he tells the day by day story of himself and the animals. Sometimes heartbreaking but always uplifting. It really restores your faith in human nature. This one man has really made a difference.