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Japan: The man who saves forgotten cats in Fukushima's nuclear zone
#1
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A decade ago, Sakae Kato stayed behind to rescue cats abandoned by neighbors who fled the radiation clouds belching from the nearby Fukushima nuclear plant. He won't leave.

Quote:"I want to make sure I am here to take care of the last one," he said from his home in the contaminated quarantine zone. "After that I want to die, whether that be a day or hour later."


So far he has buried 23 cats in his garden, the most recent graves disturbed by wild boars that roam the depopulated community. He is looking after 41 others in his home and another empty building on his property.

Kato leaves food for feral cats in a storage shed he heats with a paraffin stove. He has also rescued a dog, Pochi. With no running water, he has to fill bottles from a nearby mountain spring, and drive to public toilets.



Kato walks Pochi, his dog that he rescued four years ago, on an empty road between restricted zones in Namie.
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The 57-year-old, a small construction business owner in his former life, says his decision to stay as 160,000 other people evacuated the area was spurred in part by the shock of finding dead pets in abandoned houses he helped demolish.

The cats also gave him a reason to stay on land that has been owned by his family for three generations.

Quote:"I don't want to leave, I like living in these mountains," he said standing in front of his house, which he is allowed to visit but, technically, not allowed to sleep in.



Kato plays with cats at his house. 
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Sakae Kato plays with cats that he rescued called Mokkun and Charm, who are both infected with Feline leukemia virus, at his house which he also uses as a cat shelter, in a restricted zone in Namie, Japan, February 20, 2021.

The two-story wooden structure is in poor condition.

Rotten floorboards sag. It is peppered with holes where wall panels and roof tiles that kept the rain out were dislodged by a powerful earth tremor last month, stirring frightening memories of the devastating quake on March 11, 2001, that led to a tsunami and a nuclear meltdown.

Quote:"It might last another two or three years. The walls have started to lean," Kato said.


Decontamination in fields near his house signal that other residents will soon be allowed to return.

He estimates he spends $7,000 a month on his animals, part of it to buy dog food for wild boar that gather near his house at sunset. Farmers consider them pests, and also blame them for wrecking empty homes.



Kato feeds wild boars in front of his house.
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On Feb. 25, Kato was arrested on suspicion of freeing wild boar caught in traps set up by Japan's government in November. At time this article was published, he was still being detained for questioning.



https://widerimage.reuters.com/story/the...clear-zone
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#2
One thing isn't clear: If he consider wild boars pests, why feed them? Can't just build walls around his house and carry a shotgun? Maybe building is currently forbidden in that place, but hunting should probably be allowed (smoothbore long barrel guns like a 12 gauge are legal in Japan).
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