On March 11, 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, causing irreparable damage and more than 15,000 deaths.
One of the places hardest hit was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where tsunami waves caused leakage of radioactive materials. Concerned about possible radiation exposure, Japanese officials established a 12.5 mile exclusion zone and evacuated people living in the area.
One of those people was Naoto Matsumura, a 55-year-old former construction company worker from Tomioka, a small town in the Fukushima region, now more famously known as the "guardian of Fukushima's animals."
After the nuclear disaster, Matsumura left his home to look for a safer place to stay. Soon after he realized he left something very important behind — his animals.
Despite the dangers of radiation, Matsumura returned to his home in Tomioka to find a shocking amount of starving animals abandoned by their owners.
In a 2013 interview with Vice, Matsumura revealed that he was scared to go back at first. He was worried about the negative impact radiation will have on his health. Chronic exposure to radiation can cause DNA mutations and cancer.
But after spending more time with the animals, Matsumura came to see they were still healthy. This encouraged him to stay in Tomioka and care for all the abandoned cats, dogs, pigs, cattle and even ostriches.
Matsumura is the only person currently living in the exclusion zone. He does not eat locally produced food and drinks only safe water.
Matsumura is still constantly exposed to radiation, but, according to an interview with BBC, "refuses to worry about it."
Taking care of the animals is not an easy task, since Matsumura doesn't receive any help from the government.
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