Now designated an evacuated zone, the quiet town of Tomioko, Japan, is located less than six miles from the recently crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Matsumara, a fifth generation rice farmer initially fled with his family pursuant to evacuation orders, but returned to take care of his animals initially and he now takes care of all the remaining animals in the area to include domesticated animals as well as pigs, cows, horses and even ostriches. The town was once inhabited by over 16,000 people but Matsumara is now the sole human resident, as he explains in the video below.
When asked why he would stay in a zone with 17 times the normal level of radiation, Matsumura explained:
“Our dogs didn’t get fed for the first few days. When I did eventually feed them, the neighbors’ dogs started going crazy. 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.”
To make matters worse, initially he further risked his health by eating food and drinking water that had been exposed to radiation but now he survives on relief supplies delivered to him from safe zones.
Researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency conducted tests on Matsumura, who was found to have the highest level of radiation they had ever tested. In an interview with Vice Magazine, he spoke of his time at the agency stating:
“When I went down and let them look me over, they told me I was the “champion”. But they also told me that I wouldn’t get sick for 30 or 40 years. I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway, so I couldn’t care less.”
Vice Magazine went on to speak of their meeting with Matsumara writing:
The radiation dosage per hour inside Naoto’s house, as measured by the Geiger counter we brought with us, is two microsieverts per hour, and outside our reader spiked to seven microsieverts. When we asked Doctor Hiroyuki Koide at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute how bad this was for Naoto, he said, “Japanese law states that any location with an hourly dosage exceeding 0.6 microsieverts [per hour] should be designated as a radiation-controlled area and closed off to the general populace. Once inside a radiation-controlled area you can’t drink the water, and you really shouldn’t eat anything. It’s inconceivable to me that a normal person could live there.”
You can watch his amazing story below and be sure to turn on the captions for English.