Act on Welfare and Management of Animals

Act on Welfare and Management of Animals

The Act on welfare and management of animals (first enforced in 1973) is the law to protect animals in Japan. This law was revised in 1999 for the first time since 1973. Since 2005 the law should be revised every 5 years.

Even though this law has been enforced for nearly 40 years, there is hardly any influence visible in Japanese society.

Furthermore, law revision is now done every 5 years, but when talking about the wellbeing and treatment of animals, revision should be considered every time a serious and structural problem appears.

A couple of articles of the Act are given below. We took the liberty of adding our own thoughts and suggestions to these articles in blue. We believe these suggestions would seriously improve the foundation of the Act on welfare and management of animals.

Article 1 - purpose

The purpose of this Act is to engender a spirit for animal welfare among citizens and contribute to the development of a respect for life and sentiments of amity and peace by providing for the prevention of cruelty to animals, the proper handling of animals and other matters concerning animal welfare, as well as to prevent animals from causing an infringement on the life, body or property of humans by providing for matters concerning the management of animals.

Not prevent animals…, but prevent humans! This law shouldn’t be for the protection of humans, but for the protection of animals.

Article 2 - Fundamental principle

In light of the fact that animals are living beings, no person shall kill, injure, or inflict cruelty on animals without due cause, and every person shall treat animals properly by taking into account their natural habits and giving consideration to the symbiosis between humans and animals.

The ambiguous term “without due cause” shouldn’t be in this law. It suggests that there are right causes where one can kill, injure or inflict cruelty on animals. Moreover the definition of abuse should be stated in this law.

Article 8 - Responsibilities of animal dealers

A person who sells animals in the course of trade shall endeavor to provide to a purchaser of an animal pertaining to the sale any necessary explanations regarding the proper methods for caring for and keeping said animal and shall endeavor to ensure that the purchaser understands those methods.

Not endeavor, a law which is based on endeavors is bound to fail. No one can be held responsible in cases of a crime. This article should define exact restrictions on the trade of animals.

Article 10 - Registration of animal handling business

(1) A person who intends to engage in a business that handles animals (such animals shall be limited to mammals, birds, and reptiles, and shall exclude those pertaining to livestock farming and those being cared for or kept in order to be provided for use in testing and research, use in manufacturing biological preparations, or for other uses specified by a Cabinet Order; hereinafter the same shall apply in this Section and the following Section) (such business shall include selling [including acting as an intermediary or agent therefore; the same shall apply in the following paragraph], keeping, lending, training, exhibiting [including the provision of opportunities for contact with animals; the same shall apply in the following paragraph] or other handling specified by a Cabinet Order with regard to animals; hereinafter referred to as the "animal handling business") shall receive registration from the prefectural governor having jurisdiction over the location of the place of business where the person intends to engage in said business (in the case of a designated city set forth in Article 252-19(1) of the Local Autonomy Act [Act No. 67 of 1947] [hereinafter referred to as the "designated city"], the mayor of said designated city; hereinafter the same shall apply in this Section, Article 25(1) and (2) and Section 4).

(2) A person who intends to receive the registration set forth in the preceding paragraph shall submit to the prefectural governor a written application containing the following matters by attaching the documents specified by an Ordinance of the Ministry of the Environment:

  • (i) The name and address of the applicant and, in the case of a juridical person, the name of the representative person.
  • (ii) The name and address of the place(s) of business.
  • (iii) The name of the person responsible for animal handling (which means the person prescribed in Article 22(1)) assigned to each place of business.
  • (iv) The category (which means the distinction between selling, keeping, lending, training, exhibiting or other handling specified by a Cabinet Order; hereinafter the same shall apply in this item) of the animal handling business that the applicant intends to engage in and the contents of business and the implementation method for each of such category.
  • (v) The main kinds and the number of animals to be handled.
  • (vi) If a facility for the care and keeping of animals (hereinafter referred to as the "animal facility" in this Section) has been installed, the following matters:
      (a) The location of the animal facility.
      (b) The structure and size of the animal facility.
      (c) The method for managing the animal facility.
  • (vii) Other matters specified by an Ordinance of the Ministry of the Environment .
  • As a person responsible for the wellbeing and safety of all kinds of animals, a national certification should be required at the very least.

    Article 35 - Taking custody of dogs and cats

    (1) Prefectures, etc. (which means prefectures, designated cities, core cities set forth in Article 252-22(1) of the Local Autonomy Act [hereinafter referred to as "core cities"] and other cities specified by a Cabinet Order [including special wards; the same shall apply hereinafter]) shall take custody of a dog or cat when so requested by its owner. In this case, the prefectural governor, etc. (which means the heads of the prefecture, etc.; the same shall apply hereinafter) may designate the place where the dog or cat is to be taken into custody.

    They forget to mention that most animals taken into custody are killed. This article should define in what situations one could give up the custody of his or her animal. Only in extreme situations one should be able to give up custody of his or her animal. Basically, this article gives every owner the opportunity to “get rid” of his or her animal.

    Article 40 - Method to be applied in the case of killing animals

    (1) In the case where an animal must be killed, a method that minimizes as much as possible the pain and distress to the animal shall be used.

    Not as much as possible, but a method with NO pain!

    Article 44

    (1) A person who has killed or injured, without reason, a protected animal shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than one year or a fine of not more than one million yen.

    Instead of a fine, it should be made impossible for such a person to own an animal ever again.

    Article 37 - Restriction on the breeding of dogs and cats

    (1) The owner of a dog or a cat shall, when he/she finds that there is a risk that the animal would breed freely and that it would be difficult to give the offspring an opportunity to receive proper care, endeavor to have surgery carried out to disable breeding or take any other measures in order to prevent breeding.

    (2) A prefecture, etc. shall, upon such cases as when custody of a dog or a cat is taken under Article 35(1), endeavor to provide the necessary guidance and advice so that the measures prescribed in the preceding paragraph are taken appropriately.

    The term to “endeavor” indicates the obligation to make an effort. As said above, no can be held legally responsible for “not making an effort”. An effort is relative and judged differently by every person.

    Therefore under the existing law each person can make their own judgement, causing great differences in the sense of responsibility among Japanese people.

    The existing law doesn’t provide any foundation to prevent breeders from doing as they please, leaving many animals in the hands of irresponsible owners.

    Japan immediately needs to have a law which is clear and solid like the ones you can find in most Western European countries where there is actually a ban on pet culling by gas.