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Japan – Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

Japan is a country where the bond between people and animals is deeply ingrained in their culture. The love and respect for animals are visible in their art, literature, and even in the country’s religious beliefs. The treatment of animals, including pets, has been a part of Japan’s cultural identity for centuries. This article aims to explore the prevailing attitude towards animals and pets in Japan, the laws related to pet ownership, major animal charities, pet supply stores, and cultural taboos or sensitivities associated with different types of animals.

Prevailing Attitude to Animals and Pets

The Japanese people have a long history of caring for animals. In traditional Japanese culture, animals are viewed as sacred and are often depicted in artwork, festivals, and religious ceremonies. This cultural attitude towards animals has influenced the modern perception of pets, which are often seen as family members rather than mere animals.

According to a survey conducted by the Japan Pet Food Association, over 20% of Japanese households have at least one pet, with dogs being the most popular followed by cats. Pet owners in Japan often pamper their pets with luxury items, and pet-friendly cafes and restaurants are common in many cities. Additionally, many public parks have designated areas for dogs to run and play.

Laws Regarding Pet Ownership

In Japan, pet owners are required to register their pets with the local government and obtain a license. The license must be renewed annually, and failure to do so may result in fines. Additionally, dogs are required to be microchipped for identification purposes. Japan also has strict laws against animal cruelty and neglect, and offenders can face imprisonment and fines.

Major Animal Charities

There are several major animal charities in Japan that work towards animal welfare and rescue. Some of the most prominent ones are:

  1. Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA): JSPCA was founded in 1978 and is the largest animal welfare organization in Japan. They focus on animal rescue, sheltering, and adoption, as well as education and advocacy.

  2. Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK): ARK is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 that provides shelter, care, and adoption services for abandoned and abused animals. They also conduct educational programs to promote animal welfare.

  3. Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS): JAWS is an animal welfare organization that operates several programs, including a pet adoption program, spay/neuter services, and a pet food assistance program for low-income families.

  4. Animal Rights Center Japan (ARCJ): ARCJ is an animal rights organization that works towards ending animal cruelty and exploitation in Japan. They conduct investigations and awareness campaigns to promote animal welfare and rights.

Pet Supply Stores in Japan


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There are several pet supply stores in Japan, both physical and online. Some of the most popular ones include:

  1. Petco Japan: Petco is a popular pet supply chain with stores located throughout Japan. They offer a wide range of pet products, including food, toys, grooming supplies, and accessories.

  2. Pet-Supermarket: Pet-Supermarket is an online pet supply store that offers a wide selection of products for dogs, cats, and other small pets. They offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount and have a loyalty program for regular customers.

  3. Amazon Japan: Amazon Japan has a dedicated pet supplies section that offers a wide range of products for pets. They offer free shipping on many items and have a large selection of international brands.

  4. Rakuten Ichiba: Rakuten Ichiba is a popular online marketplace in Japan that offers a wide range of products, including pet supplies. They have a dedicated pet supplies section with a large selection of products from different sellers.

Cultural Sensitivities to Animals in Japan

In Japan, there are some cultural taboos and sensitivities associated with certain types of animals. For example, there is a long history of traditional beliefs and practices surrounding cats in Japan. Cats are often viewed as sacred animals and are believed to bring good luck and fortune. However, black cats are often associated with bad luck and are sometimes avoided or feared.

Similarly, there is a taboo surrounding dogs in some parts of Japan. In the Aomori prefecture, for example, it is considered bad luck to have a dog bark at night. Additionally, some people believe that certain breeds of dogs are more aggressive or dangerous, leading to stereotypes and discrimination.

Overall, while there are some cultural taboos and sensitivities surrounding animals in Japan, the country has a strong tradition of animal welfare and a growing pet culture.


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