Animal Rights Center works to help animals approach their natural existence and reduce their suffering in all areas. We mainly target animals under human captivity. Sometimes these two intentions contradict each other, but we want to be comprehensive without leaning to a single opinion and be objective for the individual animals and those to be born in the future. As it is sometimes difficult to make such judgments, we determine the direction of our activities by discussing among multiple people based on investigations and expert opinions. Animals cannot set the directions of these activities themselves, so we must be extra cautious.
Animals are abused and suffering in many circumstances, and the common underlying cause is the speciesist thinking such as “it’s ok to use animals” and “it’s ok to discriminate against animals”; however, their causes, motivations, and solutions vary. Therefore, Animal Rights Center examines and proposes solutions for each issue. Also, our movement is a movement that changes social systems. The results do not come immediately. Even during the process of change, many animals suffer and die. Therefore, while working towards a fundamental solution, it is also necessary to improve the welfare of individual animals and to make choices that cause less suffering.
“Farmed animals” like chickens, cows, and pigs are some of the most oppressed animals. Today’s farmed animals in Japan are in unnatural rearing conditions that completely disregard the livelihood inside factory farms (including confinement, restraint, excision and treatment without anesthesia, poor environment, etc). Improvement of this environment not only benefits the animals but also contributes to human health (food safety) and needs to be executed more quickly.
Along with the movement to improve the environment for animals and realize the 5 freedoms for animal welfare, we are also aiming to reduce the consumption of farmed animal products. This not only reduces animal sacrifices, but also reduces environmental impact and leads to realization of a sustainable society. In addition, reduction in the amount of violence against animals is thought to lead to reduction of violence in human society. The important thing is not to cultivate strict vegans, but to reduce sacrifices of animals overall in society.
Every year millions of animals are killed for fashion, including fur, wool, feathers, angoras, downs, leathers, etc. The animal-based ‘materials’ are collected from all over the world, and their production process mostly includes abusive breeding and killing. Multiple investigations have shown that animals such as minks, foxes, raccoon dogs, and rabbits are bred in poor environments for fur and are killed in vain. It has also been found that many crocodiles are being bred and killed in cruel ways for the crocodile skin, and that Angora rabbits and birds are getting their fur and feathers pulled in horrible ways. It has also become clear that environmental pollution and health problems are caused by tanning of leather (including fur). Buying clothing and accessories made of animal materials means investing in and supporting these inhumane acts. We believe that the sacrifice of lives for fashion should be eliminated immediately, promoting responsible consumption by consumers and responsible material selection by corporations.
In Japan, more than 10 million mice, rats, dogs, cats, pigs, guinea pigs, and monkeys are used as experimental subjects every year. Animal experimentation is conducted not only in the medical field but also in various fields such as cosmetics, food, and insecticides, and its necessity has not been scrutinized. In addition, there is no monitoring system or regulations to be observed, and even the government does not know where in Japan animal experiments are being conducted. Completely hidden, animals are being mutilated, diseases injected, wounded, given unknown substances for trials, cut up, and always killed in the end. Animal experimentation is the concentration of all pains and distresses, and an act depriving all dignity of animals. Because of the species differences between other animals and humans, the efficacy and toxicity studies are only examining the efficacy and toxicity for that specific animal species. Many medical scientists object to animal testing as useless. They argue that we should shift to the development of test methods based on human data. We need to eliminate non-mandatory animal experimentation, eliminate legal obligations for unnecessary animal testing on such products as cosmetics, encourage the development of human-based testing methods instead of animal testing, and ultimately the government, corporations, and researchers need to adopt the goal of eliminating animal experimentation (the EU already shares that goal although there’s no deadline yet). We humans should have the power to choose and develop more humane methods.
The animals who are ‘displayed’ at zoos and aquariums may look better off compared to other issues. However, those individual animals are in a state of being confined in prison for life. They have been separated from family and friends for several years to decades, and all freedom has been taken away. Most zoos in Japan are in a state of neglected abuse. Abnormal behaviors are present in many zoos, and natural behaviors have been lost. Even if children sees the animals exhibiting abnormal behavior of captivity, they can not learn anything about the animal’s ecology, diversity, emotions, the preciousness of nature, etc. Some children may be impressed to learn the sizes and appearances of the animals, but they will not notice the hidden tragedies of the animals. Zoos claim that they help conserve species, but species conservation should be tackled seriously by solving problems like poaching and destruction of nature in the areas where those animals originally live, and via nature reserves and sanctuaries. It is not something to be done for the purpose of entertainment like zoo, confining them to small areas, exposing them to many people, and depriving them of all the natural rights of the individual. We must eliminate zoos and aquariums, and at the same time, improve the rearing conditions at existing zoos/aquariums (both environmental enrichment and behavioral enrichment).
Among the animals used in various forms for therapy and pets, such as dogs and cats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, etc., some live in good environments but there are many others who are subjected to violence, left chained or neglected, or in horrible situations like abandonment. This is a problem caused by the fact that there are excessive number of animals and that anyone can easily start raising them in any environment without correct knowledge of animal welfare. Animals with long histories of domestication such as dogs, cats, and chickens have co-existed with humans for ages, but that does not mean that it’s ok for humans to possess them. Instead, as long as we are raising and managing animals, we have the duty to protect and improve the welfare of the animals. It’s not a subjective issue like the depth of love; we must prepare living arrangements that accommodate the 5 freedoms of animal welfare and the freedom to have positive experiences like joy. Even though many animals are already in inappropriate environments, every year more than 800,000 dogs and cats, other mammals and reptiles, almost twice as many birds, and unknown number of amphibians and fish are sold by being artificially bred in shops, poached (fished), and smuggled. Just reducing the killing by the government will not solve the problem. We must stop buying and selling living creatures, ensure thorough spaying and neutering, specify strict rearing standards with laws and guidelines, and have a system in which people who can not prepare appropriate environments or those without aptitude cannot raise animals.
At present, many people regard the use of animals as a matter of course. But we should not consider it a matter of course. A society with less animal violence can be a good society for people as well. We Japanese people are able to live sufficiently abundantly and healthily with plant-based foods, and products that pay attention to animal welfare are being sold as well. We know many ways to enjoy life without using animals. We can also enjoy being sufficiently stylish without sacrificing animals. Humans have a great deal of ability to hurt animals, but at the same time we have the conscience to not hurt them and the ability to protect them. When we purchase something, we are asked to know its background and make ethical choices. If we simply follow our own desires, we can not realize a peaceful and sustainable society acceptable to future generations. The society is changing to a mature one in which we can choose to aim for more compassionate society.