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February 13, 2018

Humane Society International and Japanese Coalition for Animal Welfare hold a citizen forum to mobilize the public for the revision of the Japanese Animal Welfare Act

Animal advocates suggest a transition from "Aigo” to a comprehensive animal welfare framework ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Humane Society International

  • We're working to impact the revision of the Animal Welfare Act. istock

Tokyo—Japanese Coalition for Animal Welfare and Humane Society International held a Citizen Forum on Monday, February 12th, to build momentum toward the forthcoming revision of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals. The forum addressed the current situation and trends of the welfare of various animals including animals used in testing, farm animals and captive wildlife. Ahead of the 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo, the Forum also proposed a paradigm shift from “aigo” (a Japanese term used to highlight human sentiment towards animals) to animal welfare, which is a more scientific framework and a principle accepted as global standards of laws pertaining to animal protection.

JCAW and HSI have collaborated to improve protections for animals in laboratories in Japan by lobbying for the inclusion of stronger clause on lab animal regulations in the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals. The Citizen Forum was part of an effort by JCAW and HSI to engage with the regulatory authorities and policymakers for the next revision of the law as well to raise public awareness about animal welfare.

Animal welfare science is a relatively recent discipline (in the 1980s the EU provided significant resources to explore farm animal welfare) that emphasizes the quality of life for the animals. It is a science-based concept that is supported by objective evaluation and research. The Citizen Forum discussed how animal welfare laws around the world address the welfare of various animals, including pets such as dogs and cats, animals in laboratories and on farms, and captive wildlife, using a science-based perspective. Participants listened enthusiastically to the lecture on the most recent trends of animal welfare given by Dr. Andrew Rowan, a foreign expert in this area, and Chief Scientific Officer for The Humane Society of the United States.

Dr. Rowan gave many examples on how the global trend on animal welfare has implications beyond protecting animals and has positive impacts on the quality of life of humans. For example, he discussed how the wave of 37 countries enacting national bans on animal testing for cosmetics, saves animals and leads to improved product safety for consumers. The bans include legal requirements that companies switch to validated, human-biology based test methods that don’t involve animals. Similarly, improving the welfare of farm animals also not only benefits the animals, it leads to better public health and food quality in addition to boosting the economy of agricultural industry.

Dr. Koichi Aoki, representative of JCAW said, “This year, various stakeholders are moving actively in order to impact the revision of the Animal Welfare Act. The revision will be largely impacted by the public attitude at that time, so we hope that the Citizen Forum helped boost public awareness and further enhance momentum to prepare for the revision of the Act.”

Troy Seidle, senior director of HSI’s Research & Toxicology Department said, “From Europe to China, there has been tremendous progress in animal welfare regulatory policy globally since the Animal Welfare Act was first enacted, and we certainly hope that Japanese regulations will follow suit in the path of animal welfare science and global best practices toward reduction and ultimate replacement of animal use in the life sciences.”

Media Contacts: HSI (Japan): Sakiko Yamazaki, syamazaki@hsi.org (interview in both Japanese and English); JCAW: Koichi Aoki, info.dokyoren@gmail.com 

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