Six miles from the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant and within the 12.4-mile nuclear exclusion zone, a man lives alone. Except for his cows, pony, cats and dog. His name is Naoto Matsumura. 

The first thing you notice about Matsumura is his smile. Which is constant. Every sentence he utters is punctuated with a laugh and rarely is he seen without a cigarette hanging from his lips. 

In March 2011, an earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck Matsumura’s rural home town, Tomioka. The reactor meltdown forced the government to evacuate everyone living inside the exclusion zone. 15,500 residents departed so quickly that farm animals were left tied up in barns, chickens were abandoned in cages and pets were locked inside homes. Scores of animals left to die from starvation. 

Matsumura made his way South to stay with family but his Father’s sister turned them away fearing contamination. The refugee camps were overcrowded and provisions sparse, so Matsumura returned to the family farm in Tomioka. After finding 1000s of animals dying, he made it his mission to stay, risking his own health to take care of the animals.

For years, Matsumura lived without human companionship of any kind, without electricity or running water. “It’s so silent here. There are buildings but no people. No lights, no sound. It’s too quiet. I’m used to it now but the emotion I felt when I realised I was alone is indescribable. ‘Loneliness’ doesn’t quite capture it.” The government wanted to slaughter the animals but Matsumura refused. If it had been for human consumption then he would have understood. That’s just life. But for no purpose, he’s opposed to that. In his eyes, Humans & Animals are equal. “If it wasn’t for the animals I would not be here. There would be no reason. It’s like being on an island with nothing. No food. Always thinking about what to eat.

High cesium here.         6 Microsieverts.         This is my Farm.

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