|For Living Together with Animals
Urgent Need Exists to Create a Framework for Cohabitation
With keeping pets
in collective housing coming to be accepted, social interest in how
people should live with animals in cities is increasing. It cannot
be said, however, that a society - wide consensus has yet been reached
on the subject. One reason why is that there is still no commonly
held view in Japan about the nature of the relationship between animals
and people, on which such a consensus would need to be based. Such
a view, or "framework" (as it is termed below by Professor
Nakagawa), is thus urgently needed; and creating it is incumbent on
us. However, what exactly would it entail?
in the City of Kobe, a "Symposium on City Planning That Enables
Living with Animals" was held for purpose of thinking about the
way that people and companion animals should live together in cities.
The sponsor was the Kobe Earthquake Executive Committee for Animal
Mourning and Commemorating Activities, whose members include Hyogo
Prefecture, the City of Kobe, the Hyogo Prefecture Veterinary Medical
Association, the Kobe Veterinary Medical Association, the Osaka/Kobe
branch of the Japan Animal Welfare Society, and the Council on Animal
Rearing in Collective Housing. The symposium consisted of lectures
by a three-member panel followed by a general discussion among the
panelists and two prefectural residents. The moderator was Yasuhiko
Aida, director and executive manager of the Japan Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The panelists and the subjects of
their lectures were: Shiro Nakagawa (director of the Ibaraki Prefecture
Nature Museum and former director of the Ueno Zoo), "Animals
and Cities How Are Cities Related to Animals?"; Masumi Yoshida
(professor at Doshisha University), "Japan as Seen According
to Its Laws Related to Pets"; and Yoshihiro Hayashi (professor
in the Department of Agriculture at the University of Tokyo), "Problem
Behaviors of Dogs in Cities," In this issue, the Companion Animal
Research and Information Center Newsletter looks at what was said
at the symposium about people and animals living together in cities,
and about creating a framework for it.
Living with Animals in Cities as Seen from a Biological Perspective
To begin with, how does one view people
and animal living together in cities from the most basic of perspectives,
"Originally, people arose from the same
ecosystem as animals," said Professor Nakagawa. "As civilization evolved,
however, people emerged from the wider, purely natural ecosystem into
a human-centered ecosystem. From an animal's point of view, the symbol
of this ecosystem, the city, is the most difficult of worlds to live
in. The animals that people have incorporated into this ecosystem
are livestock and pets. Pets are animals that live together with people
as their companions, and that have evolved in such a way that they
can no longer live except in the human ecosystem. How people should
handle and live with them in society is thus a matter of humanitarian
"Understanding pets," Professor Nakagawa
continued, "is also linked to understanding how we should deal with
animals outside the human ecosystem, and with the living things in
the world in general. If people are unable to live with pets in the
human community, then a foundation on which to harmoniously coexist
with the other animals of the world will probably difficult to establish
as well. Understanding our dogs and cats is thus linked to understanding
the world as a whole."
"Cities," Professor Hayashi added, "could
be called an environment where pet behavior that is a problem for
people easily arises. In pre-urban environments or non-urban environments,
dog behavior that is considered problematic almost never occurs."
Problems Related to Living with Animals in Japanese Cities
So, what should one pay attention to in
order to live together comfortably with pets in Japanese cities?
cities," Professor Hayashi continued, "were originally formed
in a manner that excluded nature, and then later this was corrected.
On the other hand, Japanese cities, like Edo, which had horses and
dogs and wild animals in the middle of it, were originally formed
such that they coexisted with nature, and then later shut out nature.
It is to this , I think, that the problems with keeping dogs and cats
in modern Japanese cities can be traced. In the Japan that coexisted
harmoniously with nature, the way of thinking that calls for the control
of animals was very weak. In particular, there were no methods for
controlling the aggressive behavior of mature males. The method of
training horses was also far from the scientific method of the West.
Nor was there any custom or practice of castrating animals. There
were thus no training manuals or methods for alleviating the kind
of animal behavior that can become problematic in terms of people
and animals living together. Discipline and training are indispensable
for a dog that lives in human company in a modern Japanese city. However,
a hesitation to actively change an animal's behavior still exists
at the heart of Japanese view of animals. Even now, as in the past,
there are people who are averse to training, disciplining and castrating
dogs - a disposition that works against harmonious human-animal cohabitation
in cities, especially in collective housing. How to establish a method
for controlling animals that live with people in cities, while taking
traditional values and attitudes into account, is something that,
I think, is now being sought."
Towards Creating a Framework for Living with Animals
Japan, people lived together with animals naturally. In modern Japan,
however, urbanization is proceeding space and the living environment
in cities is continuing to change. Under these circumstances, a clear
way of thinking about a framework for living with animals remains
as yet unestablished.
"In ancient Japan," said Professor Nakagawa,
"animals could become gods, as shown by the Ohtori (Eagle) Shrine
and the Sanno (Monkey) Shrine in Shinto. In Buddhism, moreover, there
is the concept of "transmigration of souls (among all kinds of living
creatures)." And in Japanese culture, there is a traditional view
about the commonality of the lives of animals and people, that the
life that runs through them both is precious."
are animals viewed under Japanese law? About that, Professor Yoshida
had this to say. "In Japan there are no laws that deal exclusively
with pets. As for laws whose purview pets fall under, there is the
Law for the Protection and Control of Animals, which does such things
as prohibit the mistreatment and abandonment of animals. In each of
the last few years, however, an average of only about three or four
cases have been brought for violation of this law; it is a law that
is thus almost never applied. In addition, there are no laws that
directly deal with whether it is permissible to keep pets in collective
housing; this is something that is instead determined by the management
rules and pet-related bylaws of each collective housing building.
In the leading cases on the right to keep animals in collective housing,
the predominant view has been that this right is not so strong that
it prevails when in conflict with management rules and bylaws. In
German civil law, there is a stipulation that "an animal is not
a thing"; in Japanese law, on the other hand, only a person is
distinguished from a thing; animals are not treated as a 'something
In a modern Japan such as this, how should
we think about the cohabitation of people and animals?
said Professor Nakagawa, "I don't think that we've yet established
a common understanding a framework as regards people living
with animals in cities and keeping them in collective housing. And
with urbanization progressing in Japanese society, I don't think the
problem is going to be solved unless lawyers, pet owners and building
managers somehow decide on such a framework. Animals require a certain
type of education and training to live together with people in cities,
and society and government would do well, I think, to consider establishing
a system towards that end. Also, if we don't thoroughly investigate
not only the various individual problems related to people and animals
living together, but also the broader issue of what the relationship
between animals and people is, then, I don't think we're going to
be able to solve the basic problem."
Professor Hayashi added the following.
"People, in their ordinary lives, have lost nature, but the animals
with which we live can give it back to us, I think. People are social
animals, but it is only by having biological relationships with other
species as well as social relationships with each other that we can
lead a balanced life. Our relationships with the animals with which
we live are biological relationships akin to that between parent and
child; they are a basic kind of emotional communion."
Finally, Mr. Aida, the moderator, concluded
the symposium by saying, "When thinking about creating a framework
for people and animals to live together, it is necessary to keep in
mind that three things are missing from modern Japanese society. First
is a correct view of animals. It is necessary to not only like pets
emotionally, but also to scientifically understand and correctly handle
their behavior and modes of life. Next is proper petowner manners
and morals, so that pets will be accepted in society. If good manners
are observed, then Japanese society should become a more mature society,
like that in Europe and the United States, in which the presence of
pets is accepted even by people who don't like them. And third is
detailed laws for protecting animals from mistreatment and for ensuring
that they are treated properly."
We of the Companion Animal Information and Research Center look forward
to doing everything within our power to help in the important work
of creating a framework for people and animals to live together.