The world's most radioactive man spends his days taking care of Fukushima's animals

Man Looks After Animals in Nuclear Fallout Zone
Man Looks After Animals in Nuclear Fallout Zone

Four years ago, the town of Tomioka in the Fukushima province of Japan was bustling with over 14,000 people. Today, it is still. What's left after the Fukushima nuclear accident is a ghost town filled with empty streets, hallow homes and dust everywhere.

The entire town was hastily evacuated in March 2011 after a radioactive cloud escaped from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the wake of a violent tsunami. The nuclear leak from the plant has been called the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Naoto Matsumura is a 55-year-old 5th generation farmer and refused to evacuate the area. According to Vice, the 55-year-old is a 5th generation farmer and refused to evacuate the area.

"I was born and raised in this town," he told Vice, defiantly. "When I die, it's going to be in Tomioka."

As he waits for his friends and families to return to his hometown, Matsumura spends his time taking care of the city's surviving animals.

His actions are so widely revered that people have dubbed Matsumura, "the guardian of Fukushima's animals."

While he awaits for Tomioka's lights to turn back on, the farmer cares for the animals by candlelight -- making the time to check in on his cows, chickens, pigs and everything in between.

Japan Nuclear
Japan Nuclear

Matsumura's story wasn't initially a story of defiance. He fled with the rest of the town during the nuclear disaster, but ended up returning to Tomioka. But it wasn't because he was homesick or sentimental. He explained to Vice Japan that it was simply because he couldn't leave his animals:

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."

Although he is obviously exposed to the radiation every day, Ryot reports that Matsumura does take precautions by eating food from outside the region's zone. You can help support Matsumura by donating here.

Take a look back at the Fukushima nuclear disaster below:

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Originally published