Meet the man saving cats abandoned in Fukushima nuclear zone for a decade after the disaster

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Ten years ago, Sakae Kato decided not to join his family and neighbours leaving Fukushima after it was devastated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The disaster on Japan’s east coast triggered a meltdown at a nearby nuclear power plant that contaminated nearby farmland and villages. Kato, who was aged 47 at the time, remained behind in his dilapidated two-storey wooden cabin to care for stray neighbourhood cats abandoned during the mass exodus. A decade later, he lives with 41 feline friends, and memories of 23 other cats which died and are buried in his garden. Kato estimates that caring for the animals has cost him at least US$750,000. Despite the objections of his family and worsening living conditions, Kato said he will stay until the last of his cats dies.

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