Nov. 5 - The Fukushima nuclear disaster forced thousands from their homes. Except one who chose to stay to tend to his 500 animals. Produced by Cheng Herng Shinn and Ruairidh Villar.
NO REPORTER NARRATION (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 58-YEAR-OLD ANIMAL SANCTUARY OWNER, KEIGO SAKAMOTO, SAYING: "After the disaster they hauled in huge concrete blocks to shut off this road." "They could have stopped a tank." "I couldn't get water or food for me and the animals." "It felt like they were telling us to just go and die." "Atom!" "Snowy!" "You're all wet. You must be hungry." "It's cat food time." "For months after the disaster they couldn't get anything to eat, so they'll eat anything these days." "Even cat food." On March 11, 2011 a tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. An exclusion zone was created nearby, and 150,000 people fled their homes. But Keigo Sakamoto remained, continuing to run his animal sanctuary. For more than two years he and his 500 animals have relied on charity to survive. Keigo Sakamoto and his 500 animals. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 58-YEAR-OLD ANIMAL SANCTUARY OWNER, KEIGO SAKAMOTO, SAYING: "Many people ran way from here because they were afraid of high levels of radiation." "Now I'm the only one left living in the 20-kilometre exclusion zone." "I don't sleep outside the zone." "Not even for a day." "There's no way Tokyo Electric Power Company doesn't know I'm here alone." "Even if it were just a lowly employee apologising for this whole mess, I'd appreciate it." "They come and go in their vans checking the damage they have done." "But I've never heard a word of apology come from their mouths, and that's what hurts the most." "One of my rabbits has escaped." "Thank goodness! I'd thought you'd been eaten by a weasel." "These animals here are my life, my family." "If I evacuated even for a month, I don't think a single one would stay alive." "You can't escape the excrement and urine, handling all the dirty stuff." "Taking care of a few hundred different animals isn't easy." "What I'm most afraid of is letting them starve to death." "So twice a week, I stock up on as many supplies as I can carry." "I couldn't look after 500 animals without this charity." "I wouldn't be able to ask for this help if it was just for myself." "It's because of the lives of my animals that I have the courage to ask for scraps." "It's all for the animals." "They're really excited." "If I fall sick and die because of the nuclear fallout, I will donate my body for research." "I have absolutely no fear because I am protecting 500 lives." "I will carry on protecting them." "I will not move a foot from this place."