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…

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…

Slaughter-themed piece wins a film award

In recent years, we have been making films for the general public based on footage of animal farms sent to ARCJ and our investigation activities. This is an attempt to have many people become aware of and think about the issues of animal agriculture. At the “Labor Festa” held on December 25, 2021, the screened “Please give me water, or light” won the Jury Prize. In addition, this work won first place in the participant questionnaire announced at a later date, and it is the first time that the animal-themed work won the award and attracted the attention of the audience at a film event dealing with many hard-line social…

Japanese Culture and Animals

An artist Ujiie-san, who is also a foster parent of chickens we rescued, donated a Buddhist art piece to the Animal Rights Center.  Ideas of animal rights or animal welfare are often promoted by buddhist religious groups in some countries, like Taiwan or China. Although that’s not necessarily always the case here in Japan, a few temples share the passion of animal activism. Irrespective of religion, Japanese culture has originally appreciated ideas of mercy, compassion, dislike of killing, and respect for all beings.   Many believe animal rights movements came from the Western society. However, the philosopher Peter Singer, who has theorized modern animal rights in academia, states that animal rights…

Aman Tokyo 2023: fast-paced commitment to cage free, with ARC egg support!

Aman resorts, which operate a resort hotel chain mainly in Southeast Asia, Europe, the United States, and China, released a cage-free policy in 2021, and in response to an inquiry from Animal Rights Center Japan, its Japanese locations, Aman Tokyo, Aman Kyoto, and Amanemu, made a cage-free commitment to transition to using only cage-free eggs by the end of 2023. Aman in Japan: background for the cage free transition ARCJ began negotiations with Aman Tokyo / Amanemu representatives for cage-free in 2020, during the COVID-19 emergency declaration. Aman Tokyo had already used cage-free eggs for some menus, but initially it seemed difficult, under COVID, to make the decision to switch…

日本ハム ストールフリー!
Good news! NH Foods Group announces gestation-crate free!

On 2021/11/11, we are able to deliver great news for pigs. NH Foods Group made an announcement as follows. Promote initiatives that take animal welfare into consideration Elimination of gestation crates on all NH farms (pigs)To be eliminated from all domestic NH farms by the end of 2030* Installation of drinking water facilities in lairage pens at all NH meat processing plants (pigs and cattle)To be installed at all domestic bases by the end of 2023* Installation of cameras on all NH farms and meat processing plants to ensure environmental qualityTo be installed at all domestic bases by the end of 2023* * For companies in which the NH Foods…

Good news! Ikaho Onsen Hotel Matsumotoro declares cage free by 2027!

On 2021/11/1, Hotel Matsumotoro, focusing on both animal welfare and the SDGs, has announced that by 2027 it will switch to 100% cage-free or free-range eggs. As a result of discussions with the certified NPO Animal Rights Center Japan, it came to this decision. The cage free policy is spelled out in Hotel Matsumotoro’s declaration toward achieving SDGs ( http://www.matsumotoro.com/img/sdgs.pdf ): Indicator for 2030 on the transition to a sustainable diet: “Switch to 100% cage-free eggs by 2027” Also added to its priority efforts are: “Active introduction of plant-based protein”“Introduction of ingredients considering animal welfare” Hotel Matsumotoro’s young proprietress Yuki Matsumoto described this cage-free initiative as follows. “Hotel Matsumotoro aims…

Gazami crab’s last day

Until now, ARCJ has been raising awareness about aquatic animals, especially crustaceans, about “ethical” killing and cooking methods, and has made inquiries to shops that are too terrible. These live fish dishes were not seen at one time due to the corona disaster, but the state of emergency has lifted, and sales of live crustaceans and fishes are resuming to gather crowds at large supermarkets and tourist spots for example. The crabs in the photos were being sold at a souvenir shop at a roadside station in a rural area. They are palm-sized crabs who live in the warm waters of Japan and are sold under the names of gazami…

Yamanashi Prefecture Announces Animal Welfare Certification. Let’s go free range!

Previously in Japan, JAS Certification for organic livestock was the only animal welfare certification with standards that could satisfy the Five Freedoms. This changed, however, in October 2021 when Yamanashi Prefecture announced new “Yamanashi Animal Welfare Certification Standards”. The Yamanashi Animal Welfare Certification Standard is separated into two tiers: Effort Certification, which evaluates the initiative’s effort, and Achievement Certification, which evaluates the actual result. As with JGAP and other certifications, the criteria for Effort Certification consist of items that are fairly basic in raising animals and are included in the “Guidelines for Animal Feeding Management Corresponding to the Concept of Animal Welfare” established by Japan Livestock Technology Association. For instance,…