Video: Hero risks life to care for abandoned pets in Fukushima nuclear wasteland
Keigo Sakamoto lives alone in a nuclear wasteland near the Fukushima plant, caring for hundreds of abandoned animals.
As fears of radiation grew after the 2011 nuclear meltdowns, tens of thousands of people left their homes and the area was put into lockdown.
Even now, two and half years after the disaster, those who enter the contaminated area must leave again before nightfall. But one man never left.
Former social worker Sakamoto (58) started an animal sanctuary in Naraha over a decade ago, fewer than twelve and a half miles from the Fukushima plant.
“After the disaster I was ordered to evacuate, which would have meant abandoning 500 animals, including chickens, dogs, goats and geese,” he said.
When Sakamoto refused to budge, the government blocked roads with concrete and he was trapped inside, completely cut off from supplies.
For months, he and his animals ate anything they could find and hundreds of the animals died in the months following the disaster.
Yet, in the last twenty-four months, the numbers of animals cared for by Sakamoto have multiplied.
Sakamoto wakes up at the crack of dawn and spends the day caring for each of his animals.
He needs more than a tonne of food every month to keep the animals alive. Twice a week, he makes the one and a half hour supply run at the near-by town, of Iwaki.
He receives some mandory support and bags of animal feed from his supporters, who send it to a pet shop near town. A supermarket also provides him with discharged vegetables.
He gets angry when he sees employees from the Fukushima daiichi operator, Tokyo Electric Power company visiting the area. He claims that they have not once apologised to him.
Sakamoto says he is not afraid of what might happen to him because he is protecting hundreds of lives and plans to continue doing what he is doing.