Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another anniversary

Today marks a year of the sealing of the 20kilometer zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant. A year ago today the remaining animals that were inside were given up on by the authorities.  Not only the cows, horses, pigs and chickens but dogs tied to their houses in the front yard. People's indoor cats watching in windows for their people to come home.The authorities imagined the people would be their usual complacent authority respecting selves, but they were wrong. There was uproar both nationally and internationally.

When Japan gets itself into hot water on an international stage it tends to become more stubborn and resolute that "this is the way things are done here". What the authorities weren't expecting was the uproar they created within the country, and across a broad spectrum of society. From farmers to pet guardians to animal welfare groups, the advice to "leave animals behind you'll be back in a few days" and then subsequent "You cannot retrieve your animals" did not sit at all well. There are a few stalwart farmers holding out refusing to listen to the government order to kill their livestock because they have no monetary value. Matsumura san is caring for dogs cats and neighbour's livestock. (pictures follow)

Another group of livestock farmers defying the order to kill their herds have set up an unsubsidised Farm of hope.
And a lone woman's video appeal to the authorities for her access to her cats

These groups are getting more help and support from the international community than their own government

Some of these links may be old, but unfortunately the problem they deal with is an area that hasn't seen any changes. There is a Japanese proverb that says Kusaimono ni futa wo suru: If it smells, put a lid on it, as in ignore it if it causes discomfort. Thing is, the lid they are trying to cover the problem with is too small.

I was in Tohoku one month ago. I had the good fortune to be there on one of the days when Japan Cat Network were doing their food drops for the animals still inside the restricted 30km area (note I said 30 not the 20). The animals with collars, the animals who were once people's pets. Only residents have access passes here, all other passes are decided upon at the discretion of the local government. Japan Cat Network has a pass, many other well known animal welfare groups do not. In the very short space of time I was there, I saw four roaming dogs, four chained dogs, three loose cats and two tanukis. The animals don't know what is 20km and what is 30km they just know that one day their humans disappeared and they got hungry.   I obviously can't say where the four roaming dogs, and three loose cats, came from originally but it wouldn't be un realistic for the dogs to have wandered 'out of the zone'. The animals the government say are not there, ARE still there, I saw them, and today on the anniversary of their callous government sanctioned fate, I pray for them.
We called her Kia. She watched from afar.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A moment for a stranger

I never met the Hamu and Eggu's human Mum but I knew of her through my Ofunato friend, M.san. As I mentioned here. She was in hospital and not expected to do well. She had dearly wanted her adult children to take her beloved furbs but none of them were in a position to do so.

Eggu being his adorable self
She was beside herself with worry about what to do with them. A friend of a friend of a friend told her about her experience with my contact. She decided to meet. They spoke and H&E's Mum said Ok, then she said no, then she said ok and then she insisted that where ever they go, they go together. If we could guarantee that, then she would allow it. I confirmed this with JCN and the lady gave her permission to release her darling boys to our group. Judy and I picked them up and ferried them to the Inawashiro shelter. We arrived with our arms two inches longer than when we had set out, they were well loved cats:-).  Longer arms and all cats accounted for, the two boys spent time in the quarantine room as per protocol for new members. Having been indoor babies since well, when they were babies, the shared quarters were kind of a shock to their systems. We realized this and put out an appeal among volunteers for a foster home or an adoptive home for these sweethearts. Jen and Dave were up for it, and the two 4year olds moved out to Fukushima.

Hamu living up to his name ;-) Big 'ole sweetheart!
When I was in Inawashiro I took photos of the boys everyday and mailed them to my friend in Ofunato. Just to give her piece of mind that she had done the right thing by these boys. Jen and David also posted a great photo album on the JCN facebook page so I copied and forwarded that to  M. San as well. I wanted her to be able to say with certainty to the family should they get in touch that Hamu and Eggu were doing really well and were in a wonderful foster family. That they were being loved on and that of course they ruled the house :-)

Last Friday morning M. san was contacted by a family member and they inquired about the two kitties. M. san was thrilled to be able to report on their well being. She mentioned she had many pictures and that the daughter was more than welcome to show them to her Mum. The lady asked if M. san would visit so she could tell her firsthand. My friend decided she would. Friday afternoon saw at the bedside of a very sick elderly lady. She had printed out all the photos we'd sent. She relayed what she learned of their new place and temporary life. Hamu and Eggu's mum pet the pictures and tickled their chins. She cried.She held them to her chest. She said thank you. She said she was so relieved. She said she was ok with everything now. She passed away two days later. I'm glad she got to know that her beloved boys are going to be just fine.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting there....but almost not

So I'll step back a little bit. A little before Hamu and Eggu. Right back to my Naha departure.... or lack of it. I was booked onto the longest flight in Japan; Okinawa to Sendai. I was at the airport 50 minutes early, or so I thought. I swiped my check-in ticket and this is where I should have realised things were amiss. The machine spat out a 'go see a member of staff NOW" slip. Keep your hair on, I can do that!! geez. Member of unperturbed staff seen, time for the ritualistic pre-departure sandwich. I had done this every other time, why would this instance be any different? I settled in to my very very good meal deal. I got lost in its avocado and entangled in the fries alongside. It was just what the doctor ordered. Nothing I could replace now if I realised I had forgotten it. Haaaaaaaa the build up of stress over the last few days decompressed. I'd have a few hours before volunteer mode slipped in. Car rental was arranged. A place to stay in Sendai confirmed. I was good to go. On the hour I got up, paid my dues and ambled down  through the souvenir section. Oooooh some last minute shisas to add to my Okinawa souvenir offerings. By 10 past I was fixing my bags on the X-ray machine but couldn't find my flight details on the board above. I asked another member of staff which gate the Sendai flight left from. He replied in perfunctory monotone "It left from gate 23". Pardon? Left? what do you mean left? as in opposite from right? or Holey Moley ..departed? Noooooo!! It left early? you mean it is closing? oh if it is closing, dude! I can run.  I CAN RUN, I can sooooo run!! I am fast dude! no, really I am. I swore on my ability to break the speed of light but they bizarrely didn't budge.
Sure the ticket says 14:35 It is only 2.15.
Please look at your ticket Madam.
I whipped the boarding pass out of my back pocket ready to duel to the death on departure times. See? 14.35!
Madam, please look closer,
Crap!! Why didn't I have my glasses on? There it was, as plain as day the minute I held it up to my nostrils 14.05!  Ugggghh. I said I had so many appointments to meet the next day, reservations tonight  and things to get done. I had to be in that area this evening for the volunteer organisation.

Boooooooooom magic words. From `yeah yeah we have heard it all before' attitude to 'ahhhhhh a volunteer'. The ANA staff rallied and had a few transport options available to me within minutes.I was whisked here, whisked there,  bags followed and I suddenly I found myself on an economy ticket in first class to Nagoya. Well helloooooooooo comfort :-) 

A quick stop for a beautiful sunset in Nagoya
and I was Sendai bound. The rent-a-car company was waving a placard with my name on it upon a arrival and a little more whisking around ensued. After being thoroughly whisked, I found myself behind the wheel of a car that was more fit for skiing or kayaking than pet transporting. But hey, I've been a Girl Guide in my time and I can work things out:-) I found the hotel, found the parking lot, found my room and conked out. Next day was for catching up with Miyuki and hopefully delivering one of Lexie's stress coats that I had promised to a little yorkshire terrier in the Kasetsu jyutaku the last time I was up.