Should animals be given legal status?

Koichi HOSOKAWA, Professor, Japan Women’s University More and more people consider pets to be family members. The term “companion animal” is also becoming more common. On the other hand, abuse and abandonment of pets and ill-treatment in the pet industry are often in the news.  If you kill or injure someone else’s animal, you can be punished under criminal law for damaging property. However, this provision does not apply if the animal’s owner does the same. It is a crime to destroy someone else’s property, and animals are simply treated as property. The crime of damaging property is punishable by imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of…

82.8% of people will not buy fur in the future: Result of awareness survey on fur

From June to July 2022, the Animal Rights Center conducted an awareness survey on fur (animal fur). As a result, 82.8% of people answered that they would not buy fur in the future. In addition, the characteristics by age and gender are also prominent, and although men in their teens have the coldest attitude toward animals, women in their teens are second to be kind to animals, following those over 60 years old. In other age groups, there is no difference in trends between men and women, but teens seem to have different values. It is also clear that females generally have a kinder attitude towards animals, while males, especially…

Don’t use Pacoma to Kill Animals

In June 2022, we learned horses were killed by getting disinfectant, Pacoma, injected without anesthesia at Kasamatsu Racecourse in Gifu. With this information, we submitted a demand letter to improve this situation to the Gifu Prefectural Racing Association, the governor Yoshida, and the National Association of Racing. On June 30th, we received their response.  Gifu prefecture replied that they had requested Kasamatsu Racecourse to make a change, to which  Kasamatsu Racecourse responded with the following new policies:   Horses will be administered an analgesic to get sedated first, then, will move forward with the procedure while administering anesthesia as well as a muscle relaxant drug.  The entire procedure from stunning to…

The egg industry corruption case – Mr. Akita and former agriculture minister Yoshikawa both found guilty, but problems continue

The court’s ruling of the bribery case, in which the former CEO of the leading egg company AKITA Foods had bribed the then Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yoshikawa to lower the standards of animal welfare, has become final and binding. They were both found guilty and rightly so. See here for related articles including an overview of the case. (As for the contents of the court’s ruling, please search news articles) We must not end with just 2 guilty people Is this the conclusion of the case? Having been witnessing absurdity of the poultry industry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) since around 2018, before…

Corporate animal welfare procurement standards, slowly but gradually

Animal welfare progress by companies in Japan is far behind that of the rest of the world. This is apparent both in the Ethical Report Card of Companies that ARCJ participates in the rating of and in the ranking conducted by an evaluator for overseas investors. However, efforts for animal welfare are steadily progressing in Japan as well. Of course, what are driving this trend are the voices of consumers and citizens, and citizens’ groups like us who negotiate with companies with those voices on our back, and recently, consumer groups are participating in this movement as well. Let’s take a look at the situations of companies, though it is…

Ministry of the Environment definition: Making animals fight is illegal

Cockfighting is illegal. As soon as 2 male gamecocks are placed in a pen, it can be illegal. On 2022/4/28, Shizuka Terata questioned the illegality of cockfighting at the House of Councilors Environment Committee. “Regarding Article 44, Paragraph 2, whose penal provisions have been tightened by the recent amendment, I think that making gamecocks fight itself may fall under the item of making a protected animal perform an act that may cause physical injury unreasonably, and is subject to the penalties of the Act on Welfare and Protection of Animals. I would like to ask the opinion of the Ministry of the Environment.” In response to this, Director Okuda of…

Animal Welfare Award 2022: winners announced

We’re announcing the Animal Welfare Award winners for FY2021. Animal Welfare Award (AWA) is an award annually selecting and giving thanks to companies that consider animals and work on animal welfare in Japan which is lagging behind the world in terms of animal welfare for livestock and aquatic animals. In the view of Animal Rights Center Japan that works to protect livestock animals in Japan, efforts resulting in the biggest impacts have been recognized. Please see the results below:

METI recognizes the importance of animal welfare

On 2022/4/7, at the House of Councilors Economic and Industrial Committee, Representative Kiyoshi Adachi brought up animal welfare as one of the challenges for Japan’s economy. Actually this is the first time that farm animal welfare has been brought up by the Economic and Industrial Committee. From this, we can see that the discussion on economics and business was completely omitted from the discussion of animal welfare in Japan. Mr. Kiyoshi Adachi cited “creation of corporate value” and “branding of Japanese food” as reasons for taking up animal welfare at the Economic and Industrial Committee. He asked how we should tackle animal welfare in the context of ESG investment and…

Can’t the Agriculture Ministry change? – Animal Welfare Committee met behind closed doors

Following the investigation report after a scandal in the egg industry, their first information exchange session about animal welfare was held. As this investigation report mentions the importance of improving transparency of the government office, this is a great way to rebuild citizens’ trust in the government. As this article explains, there was a history where some officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) were entertained by Akita Foods where they were incentivized to lower the bar for animal welfare standards. As a result, the officers made decisions without consulting the opinions by the committee of experts.  Despite this, the information exchange session was held behind closed…

Genome-editing technology, no animal welfare assessment in Japan

Genome-editing technologies can cause animals to suffer. The technologies, however, have already been applied to animals. Ahead of other countries, in Japan, genome-edited red sea bream and Fugu, or blowfish, have been fully developed and are already on the market. Genome-editing technology and genetic modification technology are essentially the same in their meaning. Although regulations applied to such technologies are different depending on countries, some of them use the terms “genome-editing” and others use the term “genetic modification”. What these technologies do are adding, deleting, or changing gene materials on the specific spots of genome (the complete set of genetic material and information organisms have). These technologies are essentially the…

GOOD NEWS! HOTEL SENKEI DECLARES CAGE FREE BY 2030!

On March 18, 2022, Hotel Senkei, focusing on both animal welfare and SDGs, announced that the eggs used at the hotel will be 100% cage-free or free-range by 2030. They came to this decision after discussing with the Animal Rights Center Japan. Immediately after learning about the importance of animal welfare, Hotel Senkei began to use cage-free eggs for breakfast which are from the cage-free poultry farm in the local area, Kanagawa Prefecture. After then, they considered switching all the eggs used at the hotel and decided to go cage-free. The following cage-free policy is posted on the sustainability commitments of Hotel Senkei. Kaori Tsuda, the young proprietress of Hotel…

イセ食品
Ise Foods, which confines the largest number of animals in cages in Japan, filed for corporate reorganization

In March 2022, Japan’s largest egg producer Ise Foods, faced by financial difficulted, filed for corporate reorganization, drawing much attention since. Ise Foods keeps more birds in battery cages than any other companies in Japan, counting to as many as 13 million hens. While they have begun to introduce cage-free rearing methods in the United States, the pace has been extremely slow. Given that timing, they appear to have inevitably done so as some US states announced stringent regulations that would ban the trade of cage-reared eggs. There are many ways to describe Ise Foods; the largest egg company in Japan, a frontier of the low margin high turnover business…

2022 Awareness Survey regarding Livestock Animals

Since 2016, Animal Rights Center Japan has been conducting a survey once a year using a private company to see how well the actual rearing of livestock animals is recognized by consumers. We report the results of the survey conducted in 2022 (the number of valid responses was 1,214). The questions are the following 10 items: Do you know that many of the sows are trapped in a gestation crate, a narrow enclosure in which they can’t turn around? Do you know that many of the piglets are castrated and have their teeth and tails clipped without anesthesia? Do you know that many of the chickens for eggs are kept…

Cage-free and egg-free mayonnaise spreading

Mayonnaise is one of the most competitive products regarding animal welfare. Mayonnaise is said to be a “semi-solid dressing made mainly of cooking oil, vinegar, and eggs”, and eggs have been widely used. Eggs are not really necessary; the same flavor, taste, and texture are possible without eggs. Therefore, many egg-free mayonnaise are sold at low prices. For companies to go cage free, they don’t really need to procure expensive cage-free mayonnaise at this time; they can just use egg-free ones. A wide variety of mayonnaise is sold. Recently, the variety of mayonnaise with cage-free eggs are increasing. What we’d like to commend the most is the private brand “Bioral…

FUR FREE JAPAN
No more animal fur – The number of animals killed down to 500,000

In 2021, 497,000* animals were killed for Japanese people’s fashion. You would be horrified if the same number of humans were killed for the same reason. Still, the number of animals killed for fur is a lot fewer compared to 2006 in which 7,975,000* were victimized that year.  The Trends of Animal Fur Imports in 2021 In 2021, 375,263 clothing items with animal fur, weighing 375,981 kg in total, were imported to Japan, down 65% compared to the previous year.   The clothing items with animal fur means coats and sweaters with fur trims, which typical shoppers tend to purchase. On the other hand, more animal fur pelts were imported than…

#ShrimpsMatter campaign final report

From July 2021 to January 2022, ARCJ ran a 6-month campaign about eyestalk ablation in shrimp farming, thanks to a grant from Compassion in World Farming International. The campaign’s objectives were: to raise awareness about shrimp eyestalk ablation to reduce farmed shrimp consumption to encourage aquaculture certification labels to prohibit eyestalk ablation The target audiences were the general public and aquaculture certifiers like ASC and MEL. Activities during the campaign: Commissioned internet-based public surveys at the beginning and the end of the campaign to measure the awareness levels and opinions regarding shrimps. Made an illustration and launched a campaign website, disseminating a press release to 30 media outlets. Designed an…

No more foie gras! Import of foie gras decreased by 44%

Compared to 2020, the import of foie gras dropped by 44% according to the 2021 statistics presented by the Ministry of Finance. When compared to 10 years ago, it has decreased by 94%.  This is likely because many consumers in Japan are feeling more and more disturbed by the inhumane process to produce foie gras, plus the issue of bird flu that emerges almost every year. Animal cruelty and diseases are two primary issues when it comes to farm animals, and thus, both companies and stakeholders should avoid the risks to consumers who are turned off by the cruel practice and the pandemics caused by farm animals. Plunging Demand Today,…

Awareness Survey Regarding Shrimps #2, January 2022

From last July until January, Animal Rights Center Japan ran a #ShrimpsMatter campaign to raise awareness about shrimp eyestalk ablation. Partly to measure the effects of this campaign, we commissioned a survey at the end of July, and again with identical questions in January this year. After briefly describing the actual practice of breeder shrimps getting one of their eyes removed in aquaculture, including videos and photos on this campaign site, we asked 12 questions: 1. Before seeing this survey, did you know that shrimps can feel suffering? 2. Had you thought that you want to know about the breeding methods and breeding environments of shrimps that you eat? 3. Did…

Good news! Wacoal is fur & fur-wool free.

Wacoal, a leading manufacturer of innerwear, will be fur & fur-wool free. Wacoal had already abolished the use of fur, but just one sweater using raccoon wool was being sold, which we asked to be abolished. Wacoal began consideration immediately, including traceability, and as a result promised that from the next season onwards, it will not use wild animal hair (including fur) and will not use non-traceable materials. ARCJ appreciates Wacoal’s sincere attitude toward the issues and its quick decisions. It is not clear from other manufacturers where fur wool comes from. Citizens should not allow such materials. The lack of traceability means that the sacrifices of the animals behind…

Rescued from cockfighting ground in Chiba Prefecture. Crushed eyes, bloody heads, rings covered with blood.

In 2021, we, Animal Rights Center Japan, together with the animal protection group Cookhouse in Okinawa, identified the location of the cockfighting ground in Chiba Prefecture. There were approximately 60 gamecocks in wooden cages, and some of them had their entire heads injured, with no eyes, had stitch marks on their heads, and had beaks cut in abnormal ways. Dead bodies were left abandoned, and we also found some bones laying around in the cages. There was a place where 10-20 people could sit, and in the back room there was a circular ring, around which chairs with cushions were lined up, making it a cockfighting ground that could be…