East Japan Big Earthquake- Not only the huge tsunami soon after the great earthquake, but also the nuclear plant accidents happened. Only people were announced to evacuate and believed it was tentative, since they were asked to leave their livestock and pets. It was not true. There were several steps of the life threatening event for the animals after the evacuation. The most of left animals were dead due to no diet and no drinking water. However some were survived by escaping from their corral to the outside. The government declared to euthanize cattle if they have no feed. But the situation has changed because the farmers wish to feed their animals and would not agree to kill their children in vain. Even if so, they wish to serve their lives for the useful or scientific research for the future. The researchers and veterinary doctors agreed to unite and it would be useful to report the scientific data to the public. Now the activities are going into the new international collaborative approach.

How Do We Face The Animals Left In Fukushima's Restricted Zone

Just as Chernobyl gained attention from the world, Fukushima too is being watched and studied by the world as a precious source of information for ensuring that what happened there never happens again. Abandoning or slaughtering the many cattle that continue to be exposed to radiation is something that researchers are obligated not to allow. In the midst of all this, veterinarian and livestock researchers from Iwate University, Kitasato University, and Tohoku University who were already working in the restricted area independently came together and founded the Society for Animal Refugee & Environment post Nuclear Disaster.

Communication with Affected Farmers

Fukushima prefecture has been hit hardest by the nuclear power plant accident, and the problems and challenges they face are very different from those of other areas.

After this society’s veterinarians examine the animals, they perform a wide range of activities including explaining the cows’ symptoms, treating them, and showing their owners how to continue to care for them. In addition to all this, they ask each and every one of the affected farmers about their feelings and opinions. Not only do they provide emotional care for livestock owners, they also perform subtle, but important, acts of care for the animals, such as treating them with kind feelings.

After talking to the animals, and directly facing the “lives” that have been left behind, researchers each consider what they can do from their respective positions, without forgetting to take into consideration the affected farmers. Communication between livestock owners, researchers, veterinarians and the cows themselves serves as a bridge between all of them, and is an important part of this society’s work.


Unforeseen Confusion

Within the 20km restricted zone outside Fukushima Daiichi, before the accident occurred, there were 3,500 cattle, 30,000 pigs, and 67,500 chickens. Two months after the accident, it was reported that numbers had been reduced to 1,300 cattle and 200 pigs. Given the confusion that struck after the disaster and the difficulty in simply getting people to evacuate, there was no way to make preparations to evacuate the livestock too, and with little information to go on farmers were forced to make the ultimate choice.

No one but pigs in the evacuation zone. Nov. 2011.
Ostrich wandering the evacuation zone. Dec. 2011.

Amidst the three great disasters of the earthquake, tsunami, and explosions at the nuclear power plant, many lifelines in many different circumstances were conducted not just for pets, but also for horses, cows, pigs, and other livestock.
No one accepts the tragic situation for the animals that live in the restricted 20km zone that was caused by the nuclear power plant accident. And in the midst of the confusion no one could determine for sure what was the right thing to do and what was the wrong thing to do.


Dealing with the “Lives” Left Behind in the Evacuation Zone

The restricted zone has become a no-vets-allowed area, and with lifelines being cut off and greatly reduced welfare, many livestock have ended up starving to death.

However, many of the livestock in Fukushima’s Hamadōri area are part of compound agricultural businesses that span rice paddies, fields, and orchards. The farmers that run these businesses tend to keep small numbers of livestock, and it’s not difficult to see why they would form strong emotional bonds with their animals. We must never forget that saving animals that have a strong emotional connection with their owners serves to save the owners as well.

Orchard of the pear. Cattles are eating their leaves. July, 2013.


Collaborative and systematic research in the field of the low dose radiation (20-50uSv/h) August, 2013.

What an organization with Researchers From Many Different Fields Can Do

Non-human animals in Japan can be largely grouped into companion animals, industry animals, wild animals, exhibit animals, and experiment animals, but none of the cows in the restricted area fall into any of these categories. Now that they have been cut off from their past lives as economic animals, what can we do for them?

From a long-term perspective, if we can do work that can change negatives into positives, we may just be able to revitalize east Japan’s livestock industry from the closed-off situation it is currently falling into.

Effects of low-level radiation on living bodies
Verification of the effects of removing contamination from living bodies
Managing the health of living animals
There is work and research that can only be done in Fukushima as it stands now, and we believe the information to be gained from it can be put to use for the good of humanity. Now that nuclear power plant accidents can be predicted and accounted for, we believe there are some incredibly valuable observations to be gained.

As research goes on, decontaminating technique for pasture lands and living bodies will progress, it will likely come a time when areas that cannot support livestock decrease. But right now, for livestock farmers who have lost their means to make a living, this problem soon becomes a serious matter of live or death. In order for Fukushima’s Hamadōri area to be reborn, it is inevitable that we need to understand properly the challenges we face, and good strategies to support that look ahead. As researchers and veterinarians, we have a duty to ensure the safety of Japan’s food and agriculture.

Advisor,Nobuhiko ITO
Director Office Manager,Keiji OKADA


Financial Support Goes to Feed and Vets

At the study society, the farmers involved with the study project are all working to improve the cows’ quality of life by providing them with food and free veterinary care.

But since access to the area 20km within the power plant is restricted, so too is the amount of time they can spend there to feed and care for the cattle. They make do by constantly monitoring daily changes in the cattle’s condition, and should one of them suddenly have their condition worsen they communicate with local veterinarians and researchers in order to keep protecting them.

We also aim to build a permanent, public research institution in order to study the long-term effects of these cattle being exposed to radiation from the Great East Japan Earthquake-induced Fukushima Daiichi accident.

We hope we can count on your support and understanding.

[Bank Account]
Akasaka Branch (Branch Code 539)
Account Number: 2193555 (Standard Savings)
Account Name: Society for Animal Refugee & Environment post Nuclear Disaster