KORIYAMA, Fukushima — Pursuing research on radiation’s effects on animals has been suggested as a way to keep livestock animals roaming the no-entry zone near the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant from being killed or starving in the harsh winter.
Nearly 2,000 cows and other livestock are estimated to still be in the 20-kilometer radius no-entry zone around the crippled power plant.
The plan is being pushed by members of the citizens’ group “Kibo-no-Bokujo — Fukushima Project” (ranch of hope — Fukushima project). On Oct. 21, around 30 people including local livestock farmers, government legislators and veterinarians met in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, to discuss the issue.
Masami Yoshizawa, 57, who has about 330 high-quality beef cow at his livestock farm situated in the no-entry zone, said he cannot bear to abandon the animals.
“I know the cows have lost their economic value since they’ve been exposed to radiation. But I think there must be a way to allow them to live. As a cattle breeder, I cannot leave them to die,” he said. “We have to catch them by winter.”
Meanwhile, a 54-year-old woman who had beef cattle in the no-entry zone said tearfully, “I freed 30 of my cows before evacuating. I believe they’re still alive.”
There have also, however, been reports of cows and pigs that are now living wild making their way into residents’ left-behind homes.
Earlier, in May of this year, university researchers asked the central government to let livestock exposed to radiation in Fukushima Prefecture live for use in research. Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Nobutaka Tsutsui expressed support for the idea, but almost no concrete measures have been mapped out.