English translation of the report by journalist Toru Yamaji
by Nippon SPCA on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 3:29am
“Fukushima Nuclear Plant 20 km zone, dogs and cats rescue project’’ Immediate report by Journalist Toru Yamaji
original story http://www.cyzo.com/2011/05/post_7427.html
Journalist Toru Yamaji visited the disaster area for reporting purposes at the beginning, but when he saw so many dogs running up to him in the evacuation zone, he felt the need to rescue them. Yamaji used Twitter to find supporters, and Naoko Otsuna of the volunteer organization Dogs & Cats Protection in Yokohama and cameraman Yasuyuki Ota volunteered to help. Though the 20-km zone has been declared off-limits now, pet owners who have almost given up on meeting their pets again are very happy to see them. Ms. Otsuna says that “These dogs and cats help the evacuees’ mental state.”
Currently, some volunteer groups and Yamaji’s project are rescuing animals. But what in the world was this official “Headquarters for the Relief of Animals in Emergencies” — which is composed of the Japan SPCA, the Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS), the Japan Pet Care Association, and the Japan Veterinary Medical Association) — doing?
“At first, I believed that the Headquarter would be taking a wide variety of actions to care for these animals,” says Yamaji, “so I encouraged people to donate to the Headquarter’s organizations. But as it turned out, they said they are not willing to rescue roaming dogs in the evacuation zone, and that they wouldn’t rescue dogs or cats that were indoors even if there were given power of attorney in order to retrieve the animals. So, on Twitter I published: ‘This is terrible.’ The Headquarters called me and scolded me that “Because of what Mr. Yamaji has twittered, we have received complaints.”
But these are true facts. In addition, in response to questions about the distribution of funds from the massive donations collected by the Headquarters, their personnel would only tell me to ‘go to the Sanitary Office and request a ‘Opinion Brief’. So I did so and went to the Sanitary Office, but they said ‘No , you need to go to the Prefectural Government’. So of course I went to the Prefectural Government, and told me, ‘We will not write a ‘Opinion Brief’. I asked the Headquarters again, ‘Why are you collecting donations?’ Their answer was ‘We are unable to answer your question’ and sadly all I could do was laugh at this.”
Our expenses, such as for transportation to Fukushima, the cost of buying dog and cat food, and medical fees, are covered by our members and supporters who have chipped in. We would like to also receive support for our efforts in the media, where we think it should be covered extensively. But major media firms will not accept interviews or photographs filmed in evacuation zone because it is not legal to be there, and such firms that feel it is more important to comply with the government declarations thus will not cover what is happening there. The government has its hands full with the human disaster so they can’t handle the pet problem. It is now planned that Katsurao Village and Idate Village will become part of the evacuation zone, making it possible that another 1000 to 2000 pets will be left behind. The project team is 100 percent focused on how we can rescue all these animals’ lives.
(Writer: Yukiko Anraku / Photo: Katsuya Sumitomo from APF)