The Fukushima power plant disaster crippled the surrounding cities, and even today radiation leakage remains a problem. Many evacuated the dangerous areas, often leaving the animals to fend for themselves. However, one man made it his mission to come back and take care of the animals.

Naoto Matsumura is 54 and lives in Tomioka city, Fukushima prefecture, roughly 8 miles away from the remains of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. At this distance, radiation is 17 times higher than the normal background radiation levels. Authorities first sent residents of Tomioka to safer ground for a short period, but after realizing the exile was indefinite, Matsumura decided to come back to the city.

When he returned to Tomioka, he began taking care of pets that were left during the evacuation. Then the government passed a law that would require the cows in the area to be killed off. When authorities came to kill off the cows, Matsumura questioned them, “I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ and they replied, ‘We are now going to kill all the cows.’ I told them, ‘Stop, I will take care of them.’”


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He continues taking care of the animals as the director of an animal rescue NGO. Sadly, he has been told by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency that he has the highest level of radiation exposure in Japan, and will very likely fall ill in the next 30 to 40 years. Along with Naoto Matsumura, 15,000 other people also stayed in Tomioka.

Here's his incredible story: