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Japan Cat Animal Welfare Protection

Japan Cat Animal Welfare Protection

Japanese Bobtail cat
photo ©copyright Helmi Flick

Contents – Japan Cat Animal Welfare Protection

Historical background

Summary of the most recent legislation

Historical background – Japan Cat Animal Welfare Protection

Animal welfare became an issue in Japan after the second world war (which ended in 1945). There were many stray dogs. The Japanese Society for Protection of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA) was founded in 1948.

In 1973 legislation was enacted: the Law for Protection and Management of Animals (this may have been called, “Act on Protection and Management of Animals”). This legislation covered the following areas of animal welfare:

  • Standards of Proper Feeding and Custody of Dogs and Cats
  • Animals for exhibition
  • Laboratory Animals
  • Producing Animals

The law was amended in 1999 due to an increase in keeping companion animals and under pressure from veterinarians and animal welfare organizations.

The new Act was called, the “Law for Animal AIGO and Management”. The term “AIGO” could not be accurately translated so the name of the Act was called, the “Law for the Humane Treatment and Management of Animals”. The word “welfare” was not used to avoid confusion with human welfare. I find this reason odd, personally.

For the first time in Japan the concept of animals being living creatures was introduced into legislation and I presume the national conscience. Remember this was 1999, quite recently. I understand this to mean that in Japanese civil law as well as animal welfare law animals are seen as living creatures. Does this mean that in Japan a person can sue for the pain and suffering of a companion animal if someone hurts or kills the animal? Or sue for the pain and suffering of the companion person? I don’t know and I doubt it.

Anyway it would seem that when the Act was updated (a necessity under the Act is to do this every 5 years), it was renamed “Act on Welfare and Management of Animals“. This, as I understand it is the current Act dealing with animal welfare. It was amended in 2005.

{source for this section,except the last 2 paras: Akira Takeuchi, DVM, PhD Professor Emeritus,University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan at the 28th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, Oct 2003}

Summary (my words) of what the current legislation covers

Japanese animal welfare law is modern in its concept, which is very pleasing to see. The legislation recognizes the need to promote better relationships between people and animals. This follows the concept of legislation changing peoples’ behavior. The intention of the UK Animal Welfare Act 2006 is similar. The purpose of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals goes beyond protecting animals but aims to create a “spiritually richer society that values life”.

Specifically, the purpose and ambit of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals (the Act) is:

  • the prevention of animal cruelty
  • the proper care and keeping of animals
  • the prevention of harm caused by animals
  • the Act is in respect of all animals kept by people

The fundamental principle behind the Act is that nobody should be cruel to animals or kill them unnecessarily. And on an understanding of their habits animals should be cared for properly whilst recognizing that animals are living beings. Under the Act animals are broken down into 4 categories:

  1. animals at home (mammals, birds and reptiles)
  2. animals for exhibition – not discussed here
  3. industrial animals – not discussed here
  4. laboratory animals – not discussed here

Under 1 above a person who owns an animal is responsible for the animal.

This responsibility covers these areas:

  • care for the animal throughout its life in a way appropriate to the animal with knowledge of needs and health issues
  • ensure the animal does not harm others or be a nuisance to others (noise, smell, urine, feces etc.) including understanding zoonotic diseases (transmission from animal to person)
  • spay/neuter the animal – this means taking control over breeding
  • prevent the transmission of disease from the animal
  • microchip, or identify in some other way, that the animal belongs to the owner
  • maintain a proper, decent living environment free from excess smell and noise

Animal handling businesses must be registered.

Protected animals are:

  • cattle
  • horses
  • pigs
  • sheep
  • goats
  • dogs
  • cats
  • domestic rabbits
  • chickens
  • domestic ducks
  • domestic pigeons
  • mammals, birds, reptiles

Japan Cat Animal Welfare Protection
Punishment/penalties on conviction:

  • for killing or injuring (this falls within the ambit of cruelty) without good reason – imprisonment with work for not more than one year OR a fine of not more than one million yen (as at Oct 2008 – fines and laws change)
  • neglects or abandons (this falls within the ambit of cruelty) – a fine of not more that 500,000 yen.
  • other breaches of the Act are subject to fine, imprisonment with work or other punishment.

Japan Cat Animal Welfare Protection
Japan Cat Animal Welfare Protection – Source:

Animal Welfare and Management Office
Policy and Coordination Division
Nature Conservation Bureau
Ministry of the Environment
(Edited by Mikako Tsushima)

From Japan Cat Animal Welfare Protection to Cats and the Law

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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