On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had a meltdown following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that stuck Japan, followed by a tsunami that killed 15,900 people, and about 2,500 still considered missing. A decade later, a man still lives in the area when neighbors fled as he saves abandoned and forgotten cats.
57-year-old Sakae Kato used to be a small construction business owner. When 160,000 people evacuated the area, he decided to stay on the land his family has owned for three generations after finding dead pets in abandoned houses he helped demolish.
“I don’t want to leave, I like living in these mountains,” he told Reuters. He is just visiting his house, and not allowed to sleep in it due to its very poor condition. “It might last another two or three years. The walls have started to lean.”
Kato currently cares for 41 cats in his home and in another empty building on his property. He had since buried 23 cats in his garden. If he finds feral cats, he leaves them food in a storage shed. He also rescued a dog, whom he now calls Pochi.
“I want to make sure I am here to take care of the last one,” he said. “After that I want to die, whether that be a day or hour later.”
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