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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Fukushima's pets

October 13, 2014

Bittersweet embrace for Fukushima evacuees and their pets



IITATE, Fukushima Prefecture--A couple who have been living as evacuees since the 2011 disaster enjoyed a brief respite during a reunion with their dogs after a six-month separation.

"We're happier being with our dogs than we are living just the two of us," said 76-year-old Mamoru Takano, who temporarily returned to his home in the Sekisawa district with his wife on Oct. 12 to see their beloved animals.

The dogs were among 13 pets reunited that day with their owners by a Japan Animal Care Center facility in Tomika, Gifu Prefecture. The center took in dogs from owners forced to evacuate in the wake of the nuclear disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and were unable to take care of their pets due to restrictions imposed by their housing situation.

"When the evacuation order is lifted, we look forward to living with our dogs again," Takano added.

After the outbreak of the nuclear crisis, the village was designated as an evacuation zone. Former residents of the Sekisawa district of the village, about 40 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, are currently allowed to enter temporarily but not stay overnight.

The designation forced Mamoru and his wife Yayoi, 74, to take refuge in temporary housing in Soma in the prefecture.

The couple’s dogs, Yamato and Koharu, wasted no time getting reacquainted, leaping for joy when they saw their owners.

The Tomika facility currently looks after 21 dogs. An official with the center said staff members traveled between Tomika and Iitate for similar reunion occasions in spring and autumn since 2013.

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