Revisiting the sanctuary at Fukushima

I have decided to revisit Fukushima with this blog.  A couple of weeks ago I was going to write a blog. It started as one thing and, as sometimes happens, went in a different direction.

Actually it didn’t, it stayed in the same place but looked at the subject from a different angle. I decided that the original subject matter deserved my full attention so I am revisiting the original blog here with my original material.

When the earthquake devastated the Fukushima power plant Naoto Matsumura fled the village of Tomioka, eight miles from the plant, with his parents and all the other residents. Unhappy to be leaving the animals behind on the family farm he returned and has been there ever since.

The village is starting to show signs of decay. Weeds and shrubs are coming up everywhere and the power poles are starting to fall over as nature begins to reclaim the land. The railway line is being recommissioned but I doubt the station will ever be used again and there is no power or water to the town. And yet Naoto stays, caring for the animals.

Cats, dogs, pigs, cattle, even ostriches are under his care. Thousands of animals died chained or penned up without food or water. A horrific way to die for any creature. Naoto gathered the abandoned farm animals together in rice paddies which he fenced himself and set about feeding and caring for them

He relies on donations from well wishers and despite the Police continually telling him to leave and the government trying to justify the slaughter of all the stock. They are just living their lives, they will never be sent to abattoirs for human consumption, they are not sick or suffering in any way.

Naoto has been told that the radiation levels in Tomioka may affect him, in thirty to forty years. He is fifty five years old so he doesn’t care.

I became interested in Naoto’s story by accident a few months ago after reading stories which inferred that radiation levels at Fukushima had spiked to extremely dangerous levels. From news sources like the UK Guardian which reported ‘unimaginable’ levels of radiation. Unimaginable because they were not true. The original figures were not recorded but guesstimated from the symptoms of a failing robotic camera which the facility’s operator had finally managed to get inside after six years of trying. The actual readings, when they managed to get a readings taking robot inside were well below half that originally guessed at.

Still high, very high. High enough to kill with a couple of minutes exposure but probably fairly constant since the first few days of the catastrophe. Not rising or spiking although that was the inference of the headline, they just hadn’t been able to get a measurement.

There is a mile of difference between those levels and those at Tomioka. Almost instant death or up to forty years before it ‘may’ cause problems. Regardless, Naoto stays, looking after the animals that everyone else abandoned, most of whom would have died horrible deaths without his selfless devotion.

Naoto Matsumura has a Facebook page to raise awareness of the situation, please go and have a look.

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