After the Japanese government ordered the people of Minamisoma to stay indoors when the nearby nuclear plant started leaking, all the food stores shut down and gas stations ran out of petrol as people fled. 25,000 isolated residents who remained were facing starvation.
The mayor pleaded for help, speaking into a small digital camera, and posted it on YouTube. After a quarter million views, Mayor Sakurai received hundreds of boxes of food and other supplies from individuals, and truckloads of relief goods from nonprofit organizations.
He described the response to his 11-minute online plea as a turning point for the city.
“Suddenly, the world was extending its hand to us,” said Mr. Sakurai, 55, an energetic man who still wears the same beige uniform as in the video, but now smiles and seems more relaxed. “We learned we’re not alone.”
See the mayor’s video below, and READ the story at the New York Times.