Japan’s survivors scavenge for food in aftermath of tsunami
The unshaven man in a tracksuit stops his bicycle on the roadside and glances over his shoulder to check that he is unobserved. Satisfied, he reaches quickly into the sludge-filled gutter, picks up a discarded ready-meal and stuffs it into a plastic carrier bag.
In another time, another place, Kazuhiro Takahashi could be taken for a tramp, out scavenging for food after a long night on the bottle. In fact, he is just another hungry victim of Japan’s tsunami trying to find food for his family.
“I am so ashamed,” says the 43-year-old construction worker after he realises he has been spotted. “But for three days we haven’t had enough food. I have no money because my house was washed away by the tsunami and the cash machine is not working.”
If his haul wasn’t so pitiful — his bag had two packets of defrosted prawn dumplings and a handful of vacuum-packed seafood sticks inside — Mr Takahashi might be taken for a looter. But in the port town of Ichinomaki, 200 miles north of Tokyo, his story is disturbingly common.