Some may call Naoto Matsumura insane. Others will insist that Matsumura is simply a man who loves nature. Matsumura is the last man to remain living in the exclusion zone near the defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, following a major reactor meltdown in 2011.
But why does Matsumura remain?
Matsumura remains in the contaminated to help care for animals, both wild and once domesticated. The animals were lost or abandoned by their owners and caretakers following the major events that sparked the plant’s nuclear meltdown. A massive earthquake occurred, causing a tsunami. The rushing wall of water damaged the reactor, leading the to the eventual disaster.
Matsumura initially left with his family, but returned days later to check on the animals at the family’s farm. Lawyers had reported that Matsumura discovered that many area residents had left their pets tethered outside, in outdoor pens, or even locked inside of homes, believing that they would soon return to the area.
In the four years since the disaster, Matsumura has cared for hundreds of animals, including cats, dogs, pigs, and even ostriches. He has managed to establish contact with those living outside of the contaminated area. Matsumura supports his cause through donations and by other fundraising efforts.
Most of the food and water consumed by the man and his menagerie are brought in from outside of the exclusion area. Matsumura was able to speak to filmmakers who noted that new generations of animals have been born inside of the zone, despite the potential dangers.