Ten years ago the disaster hit Japan in waves. First, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the northeast coast, shaking the country and affecting the world.
In addition to theories that the quake shortened Earth’s days, the effects of this force actually moved the island nation of Japan by 8 to 13 feet, according to reports of the incident.
The quake triggered a massive tsunami that hit the coast with waves over 12 stories. The losses were immense, but the fear continued, next in the form of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. After the dam was breached by a 50-foot wave, the facility failed and radiation shot up into the sky, causing already frightened residents to flee.
But many brave souls stayed to clean up the devastation. One of these people was Sakae Kato. After Kato owned a small construction company before a disaster struck his life, he stayed while 160,000 others fled. When Kato helped clear destroyed houses, he was impressed by the number of dead pets he saw. He also felt compelled to look after the cats that roamed free and abandoned.
A decade later, Kato is still there.
To the last
And he announced that he will not leave until his time on this mortal spiral is up.
“I want to make sure I’m here to take care of the last one,” Kato told Reuters. “After that, I want to die, be it a day or an hour later.”
He currently has 41 cats under his wing and 23 in his garden. He loves cats and calls them his children. Your care is so important to Kato; he goes without running water and collects it from a mountain spring near his home. Kato also protects the wild cats and feeds them in a shed kept warm with a paraffin oven.
His own home is in a contaminated quarantine zone in Fukushima and is crumbling. The two-story house, once solid and strong, has sagging and holes in the walls and roof. The walls are now sloping due to recent seismic activity. As a construction professional, Kato believes “it could be another two or three years.”
Still not going
Kato is technically not allowed to live there, only to visit. Japanese officials have asked him to go more than once, but he does not go. This devoted cat lover is determined to stay in the land that has been part of his family for three generations.
“I don’t want to go, I like to live in these mountains.”
While his land and house are falling into disrepair, he is currently not thinking about the cost of repairs. Kato spends approximately $ 7,000 a month feeding and caring for the cat population. He also buys dog food for his dog friend Pochi. The dog food is also used to feed wild boars that frolic near his home at dusk, trying to tear up farmland and empty houses.
Imprisoned for compassion
With signs of nuclear decontamination in the fields, more residents will be back soon. Hopefully Kato will be there to greet them. At the moment he was arrested by law enforcement agencies.
On February 25, Kato was arrested by Japanese police on suspicion of releasing wild boar caught in government traps.
At this point he is still in custody.
Yumiko Konishi, a Tokyo veterinarian who helps Kato keep the cats healthy, reports that volunteers look after the cats while he is incarcerated, but unfortunately one of them has died. The others are eagerly awaiting Kato’s return.