Naoto Matsumura is a stubborn man who lives in a ghost town. The 53-year-old rice farmer is the only resident of the town of Tomioka, just six miles from the Fukushima nuclear plant that melted down two years ago. Even though he initially evacuated his home, along with his parents and other residents of the town, he soon returned. Against everyone’s advice, he went back to his farm because he didn’t want to abandon his animals. When he returned to Tomioka, he found lots of cattle, pigs, cats, dogs, and even some ostriches that had been abandoned and were starving. He made it his mission to care for them and and made the rounds every day to feed them. Even though many cattle starved to death and the government ordered the slaughter of many more (an order Matsumura vehemently opposed), he has managed to save many others.
He doesn’t seem too concerned that researchers told him he had the highest level of radiation exposure in Japan. “They also told me that I wouldn’t get sick for 30 or 40 years,” he said. “I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway, so I couldn’t care less,” adding “I was born and raised in this town. When I die, it’s going to be in Tomioka.”
The video above is a very moving account of Matsumoto’s story from VICE Japan. (You’ll need to turn on captions to read the English subtitles.)