A Japanese veterinarian who is in the United States to help raise awareness of the plight of livestock abandoned in the evacuation zone in Fukushima Prefecture will be giving presentations in California about the issue and his efforts to save the animals.
The Northern California talk by Dr. Shigeki Imamoto will be on Friday, Feb. 10, at 1:30 p.m. at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, 1840 Sutter St., San Francisco, and is being sponsored by the JCCCNC and its Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.
The Southern California talk will be on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 1:30 p.m. at the SPCA, 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach (in El Dorado Park). Iwamoto will be introduced by Dr. Yuko Nishiyama of Village Veterinary Hospital in Gardena.
Imamoto, who runs the Shinjo Animal Hospital in Nara Prefecture, realized that there were many veterinarians who were fighting to save dogs and cats in Fukushima, but he considered livestock the forgotten victims. He began fighting for the lives of cows, pigs, horses and chickens and helping the region’s farmers.
Iwamoto became the chief medical advisor for the organization Farm of Hope (http://bit.ly/qjePKP), an organization that is trying to help farmers in the 20-kilometer “no go” radiation exclusion zone in Fukushima. The zone was declared a restricted area by the Japanese government on April 22, 2011, because of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
“I would like to ask everyone, ‘Do you think that the life of an animal is worth less?’” Imamoto said in an interview with the Hachiko Coalition (http://hachiko-coaliton.org), an American organization that is calling for the rescue of animals in the restricted zone. “Do you think that destroying livestock (that) cannot be sold is a right decision? … I do not think our society should abandon life. Animals live in the flow of life. Humans are maybe the only animals who are able to think that they wish to die and kill themselves. Animals do not think they want to die. Animals want to live.”
Residents have been evacuated from the zone, but untold thousands of dogs, cats and livestock were either destroyed or abandoned and left to die, affecting thousands of farmers who depend on the animals for their livelihood. In 2009, animal husbandry — dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs and poultry — made up $51.3 billion yen, or 21 percent of Fukushima Prefecture’s agricultural economy.
Imamoto said the Japanese government has prohibited veterinarians from entering the exclusion zone and currently only researchers from universities can enter the area. Animal rescue groups are also banned from entering the zone.
For more information about Imamoto, see his YouTube presentation at http://bit.ly/xoDDpa.
The JCCCNC (www.jcccnc.org) established the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund on March 11, 2011, to provide aid to the citizens and survivors of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The fund was created to provide citizen-to-citizen assistance to bring hope and direct assistance to the most affected communities. NJERF has become the largest Japanese American community-based relief fund, with more than $4 million in donations to date. All of the donations go directly to citizen relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts.