Archive for the ‘the lonesome cowboy in Fukushima’ Category
Tokyo – September 11, 2012 was the one year and six months anniversary of the big Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster, followed by the Fukushima nuclear accident.
The nuclear disaster has displaced 100’000 people. The nuclear disaster also made huge amounts unusable land in northern Japan for decades to come. Critics in Japan and overseas have largely questioned, whether Tepco has sufficiently considered the tsunami and earthquake risks.
For more than eight months, the 20 km zone around the Fukushima power plant was a forbidden zone where evacuation is an obligation for everyone, except one man. Since the nuclear accident, Naoto Matsumura refuses to leave his farm. At the age of 53, this farmer is physically in a good shape. In the city of Tomioka, in the Prefecture of Fukushima, where he currently lives, there is no water and no electricity. People who can identify themselves as being residents of the evacuated area and members of their families can get inside with a special pass. Reporters have requested these passes by pretending they were “married” or somehow “family related” to the residents who originally lived in the evacuated zone in order to get inside and report how it is. Therefore, Mr. Naoto Matsumura is not the only man going inside the the forbidden zone, however he is still living there in his original home with the animals which he took under his responsibility. The police patrols and the frontier guards do not seem to be very picky on checking the faces and the identities of the people going inside, like foreign reporters, because of the necessary masks and whole body white suits.
Currently, Naoto Matsumura is taking care of three dogs, Taro and Ishimatsu, and a third little orphan he found near the awful cow skeletons, now so sadly famous. Just three weeks ago, Mr. Matsumura was paying a visit to some remote areas of Tomioka town, and he said “the poor dog probably got a skin or fur infection. It was lying there in the middle of the dead cows, it looked sad and depressed. Its fur had gone off, and it looked skinny. When I approached it, it didn’t react aggressively, on the contrary, it looked happy to find a man, alive. So it followed me into my pick up truck and I took it home and fed it.” Mr. Matsumura called it “Kiseki”, the word for “Miracle.”
The poor little Kiseki aka Miracle, will probably never be adopted by anyone in Japan, like some other Fukushima dogs had been recently. It looks too ugly, nobody would want it in the living room or even in one’s garden. He can only live in the Fukushima no-go zone, counting on the gentle voice and love of Mr. Matsumura, and his two companions, Taro and Ishimatsu, which accepted it pretty well, because they suffer the same misery.
Other than the team of four, who often stay together, there are additional 30 or so cats, which are much more independent and learned to live pretty much in the wilderness, but which still count on the hands of Mr. Matsumura to be fed occasionally.
The Fukushima “lesbian” ostriches
There are two ostriches, two females. One of them got a big egg recently, but it was technically not fertilized and so will never be the next eggs.
Seventy Five Cows and a Pony
Mr. Matsumura also has a little pony, called Yama, like the mountain. As for the famous cows, there are now 60 males and females and happily 15 healthy calves.
“Today, I had a visit from a reporter of Friday Magazine, so I had some human encounter, but those guys leave when it becomes dark, so it isn’t fun.” Mr. Matsumura never complained, but he admitted that the summer had been tough, the water from the well dried up. No air conditioning, no television, no water. “I still eat exclusively precooked food, cup noodles, instant curry and so on. I go to my attributed evacuation home only 2 or 3 times in a month.”
Naoto Matsumura said he dares not ask for help to anyone, since doing anything inside the no-go zone can affect one’s health, due to the high radiation rate. However, his NGO partners had left him aside lately, and he is dealing with the feeding all by himself. He said sometimes he receives donation pet food from Japanese nationals who support him and encourages him. He has stayed in good contact with “Gattsu Fukushima” and its leader Endo-san, but his own NGO “Ganbaru Fukushima” had had only one active member until recently, and it was himself. Time passes by slowly indeed. But the Fukushima nuclear accident has caused the forced evacuation of more than 100,000 people in Fukushima. Many will never step their foot back in their home land again. The left behind are the animals. “We cannot do anything about them, this is a no-go zone,” the authorities had said. But Mr. Matsumura continues to feed those animals left behind. And he will continue to operate inside the town until someday action will be finally taken by authorities and the Japanese people to rebuilt this region of Fukushima, with decontamination of the soil, and reconstruction of the houses.
Tomioka-town, June 2nd, 2012
Another happy news from the Fukushima Forbidden Zone: Last Thursday, a new calf was born successfully. The new born female is the fourth calve to come to this world after the great Tohoku tsunami and nuclear disaster that obliged thousands of people to move “temporarily” from their homes.
Last week, an attractive celebrity came inside the FFZ accompanied by 4 other volunteers, to help Mr. Matsumura’s work.
Kumiko Ohba, 52, a retired singer and actress who was a pin-up idol in the 1970’s, came to help Mr. Matsumura to do the farming work. Kumiko Oba has especially helped Mr. Matsumura to collect the grass that he has been cutting with a farming machine. She first came to his farm on the 28th around noon and left before the sun set. Stayed over night in Iwaki-city and came back the next morning from 10 am to 3pm.
Mr. Matsumura and his NPO colleagues decided not to give any names to the new born calves, out of superstition, Matsumura explained: “Two times when we baptized the new born calve, they died few days later. So we decided not give names.” However, Mrs. Kumiko Ohba baptized baby number four, she called it Kometto, “comet” in English, referring from the famous TV drama she starred recently.
Mrs. Ohba expressed her gratitude to Mr. Matsumura before she left the doomed city and said: “Matsumura-san, ganbatte kudasai, please stay strong.”
Mr. Matsumura said that a TV crew tried to enter the forbidden zone to cover the helping attempt of the star singer, but they did not receive permission from the government to accompany her and the 4 other volunteers who visited Mr. Matsumura from May 28 to 29, 2012, inside the Fukushima No-go zone.
Kyoko Miura in Tokyo
Tomioka-town, Sunday 26th May
Naoto Matsumura reported a third birth inside the FFZ this week. Out of three calves, two died. However, this week two additional calves were born successfully, which makes a total of three “healthy “ calves at the moment.
A total of seven high level representatives including representatives of the Ministry of Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries, of the Fukushima Prefecture, of a medical association, and the mayor of Tomioka town have visited Naoto Matsumura in the exclusion zone last Wednesday. As a result of talks, a decision has been made not to kill the surviving cows of the FFZ.
A victory for Naoto Matsumura, who is now starting to get support from officials. “After the nuclear accident, the government officials repeatedly said there was nothing to be done for the animals caught inside the 20 km no-go zone. Last winter they were talking about exterminating them, rather than feeding them,” Matsumura said over the telephone, while driving his white Suzuki pick-up truck, this Sunday morning.
The weather has been nice overall this week inside the FFZ, and Matsumura was in a good mood on this Sunday morning, which was rather sunny and warm in both Tokyo and Tomioka town.
We should not forget this Japanese town, contaminated for decades to come where a man has courageously decided to stay in “until he dies”, Naoto Matsumura said many times.
Tomioka-town – Friday 18th of May 2012
During this week, which has been “quite rainy” inside the FFZ, but “not too cold” a third calf was born last Monday. According to Naoto Matsumura, there have been two previous births among the hundred or so cows, which he is taking care of currently. The two died, as we know. However, “this one really looks healthy and strong” he said over the telephone tonight, “this one will live.”
This week has been the first week after his new NPO started to exist under the name of “Ganbaru Fukushima”. He said he was overall satisfied with the situation: “I have no particular feelings, but right now, what I feel is tremendous responsibility.”
Yesterday, Naoto Matsumura received a phone call from the mayor of Tomioka-town. The mayor told Matsumura that he will “cooperate in the task.” Next Wednesday, the people who grant the agricultural award will come to visit Matsumura at his farm-house. “We will have a discussion,” Matsumura said.
Yesterday on May 11th, 2012, Mister Matsumura became the president and leader representative of his Non-Profit Organization called “がんばる福島” /Ganbaru Fukushima. Mr. Matsumura will not be alone in his task anymore. It took almost a year for people to consider doing something about the animals and pets left behind the highly contaminated zone. “The government doesn’t help us, that’s why we have to take action by ourselves,” Matsumura said last February at a press conference in Tokyo. “Now, there are two other NPO supporting my work in the red zone, which is to look after the animals,” he said over the telephone this morning.
This Saturday morning, another NPO, the “ガッツ福島/ Gattsu Fukushima” with Endo-san, and the religious corporation of the Buddhist Zen Kochi Temple in Nihonmatsu-city, in Fukushima prefecture were meeting with Mr. Matsumura to put in place the “絆プロジェクト”/ “Kizuna Project” (Bonds Project) in order to look after the cows altogether, because, Mr. Matsumura alone cannot technically do all the work by himself, although he has already contributed a lot until now. The situation is improving, and Mr. Matsumura was very happy about this new movement in the FFZ (Fuskushima Forbidden Zone). He said he feels happy and his health situation is fine.
Matsumura added that lootings and a lot of “anti-social” people used to hang around during the first months that followed the tsunami and earthquake disaster, last year to steel the personal belongings of the citizens who left their houses in emergency. But currently, the zone is “empty,” overall. People are allowed to get in, but staying there more than 24 hours, could affect your health. It is probably not a place where to “walk around”, if you fear of being “eliminated,” “this could be done quite easily,” an expert on crime and murder issues said today, talking about the FFZ.
Tokyo, May 7th, 2012
We have briefly met Mr. Naoto Matsumura, aka “the Buddha of Fukushima” on the last day of Golden Week, at the TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo.
Mr. Naoto Matumura had provided us a photo of the little cow we previously reported on. On April 17th, the cow was born with a lot of difficulties, inside the FFZ (Fukushima Forbidden-Zone), within the group of other cows Mr. Matsumura is taking care of. The exact number of cows is unknown but we believe the total number should be around 400.
The mother-cow was extremely ill, and Mr. Matsumura thought her progenitor was dead even before birth. However it came to life for a brief moment. It lived 3 days, after being transported outside the red-zone, to the closest town’s animal hospital, in Miharu town. The cow died at the hospital.
(Photo: Kyodo News)
Tokyo, Friday , April 27, 2012
News from Tomioka-city, in the Fukushima Forbidden Zone.
The little cow, which was born inside the 20 km Forbidden Zone last week, finally died three days after its birth, despite the fact that Naoto Matsumura had deployed many efforts to bring it to the neighboring city’s animal hospital, in Miharu-town.
“The mother-cow is fine, she was weak, but she managed to survive inside the newly built fence with the other cows,” Matsumura, who had been waken up from a deep sleep around 9 PM today said over the telephone.
Matsumura was mourning the little cow, but he said he had a good news for next week: “more than 10 people” from all over Japan will be able to come along inside the 20 km No-Go Zone in order to help clear up the debris. They will be staying in hotels or minshuku around the 20km zone and go inside every day to do some “handy work.”
More details on “Asa Tele” (Asahi Televion) available on Saturday.