In Japan, Cats Still Seeking Refuge from Tsunami Fallout


Although the earthquake and tsunami, and the resulting nuclear crisis, that devastated northeastern Japan last March are no longer in the news here in the U.S., rescue groups are still working to save animals abandoned as people fled their homes.

The winter in Fukushima, site of the nuclear power plant that melted down and released radiation on the scale of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, has been especially hard on the animals left behind. Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS), which is still conducting rescues in that area, writes on its Facebook page, “Their story is the hardest to tell. Hunger, freezing temperatures, predation such are the challenges the animals of Fukushima face on a daily basis. It’s a survival of the strongest. The weak don’t stand much of a chance anymore. Emaciated mothers are giving birth every day but have no milk to feed their young they can’t even feed themselves. Their only hope is people.”

But there’s also a light in the darkness. A volunteer cat protection group in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward has been bringing cats to Tokyo from Sendai, another city destroyed by the disaster, and finding them new homes. Last year, they rehomed 31 kittens rescued from Sendai.

Just this week, the Tokyo group received six adult cats ranging in age from 1 to 7. Naiomi Furukawa from the cat protection group said they couldn’t find homes back in Sendai. A community animal welfare organization paid the transport costs, and now the feline refugees can look forward to a new life with loving families in Japan’s capital city.

Let us not forget that it takes years to rebuild from a disaster. Long after the world forgets, the Japanese are forced to remember every day.

Ordinary citizens continue to make terrible sacrifices to do whatever they can to prevent their nation and the world from being even further ravaged by the ongoing nuclear crisis.

Refugees, both animal and human, from destroyed homes still need our help.

Let’s continue to do whatever we can. Whether it’s making donations to groups like JEARS, helping others to remember that a disaster of this magnitude doesn’t disappear as quickly as the headlines (think about it: Almost six years later, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina), or simply praying for the well-being and recovery of all those whose lives have been torn apart.

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