Four years after Fukushima
Posted on June 18 2015
Naoto Matsumura is the man who stayed behind.
Known as “the last man from Fukushima“, 55-year-old Matsumura is the only person still living in the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered a meltdown after the major earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
Yet Matsumura, nicknamed Macchan, is not alone. He has remained in his home in the coastal town of Tomioka, around seven miles from Fukushima’s stricken nuclear reactors, in order to look after the area’s animals.
Macchan takes care of scores of pets and livestock left behind when their owners fled, including cats, dogs, ducks, pigs, cows, a pony and even ostriches.
It began with the animals on his family’s farm. Having left home with his parents at the start of the nuclear disaster, Matsumura returned alone to check on the farm dogs, who hadn’t been fed for several days.
“When I did eventually feed them, the neighbours’ dogs started going crazy,” he told Vice magazine in 2011. “I went over to check on them and found that they were all still tied up. Everyone in town left thinking they would be back home in a week or so, I guess.
“From then on, I fed all the cats and dogs every day. They couldn’t stand the wait, so they’d all gather around barking up a storm as soon as they heard my truck. Everywhere I went there was always barking. Like, ‘we’re thirsty’ or, ‘we don’t have any food.’ So I just kept making the rounds.”