Letter from CAIRC
October 2000 Vol.4 No.4

Symposia on "Living with Pets in Collective Housing"
Held in Fukuoka, Osaka, Attracting Many People in Construction,
Real Estate, and Management Unions

We of the Companion Animal Information and Research Center (CAIRC) have been holding symposia nationwide on the subject of "Living with Pets in Collective Housing." The first of these, attended by 320 people, was held in Tokyo last October. Two more were held this year, one on September 19 at the Hakata Tokyu Hotel, the other on October 5 at the Osaka Tokyu Hotel. Both drew capacity crowds of roughly 200 people. The Osaka symposium attracted so much attention that even the standing room was occupied.

In October CAIRC celebrated the third anniversary of its founding. Over these three years, we have devoted ourselves to conducting educational activities about keeping pets and to creating an environment in which pets can live comfortably as a part of urban life. Recently, the words "companion animal" have taken root in Japan, and social awareness of the psychological benefits that pets have for people has increased. In February 1998, we produced a textbook, "Living with Dogs and Cats in Collective Housing"; and when we began distributing it, free of charge, we received numerous inquiries from real estate-related firms, making us keenly aware that many companies are looking for an effective approach to building and managing pets-allowed collective housing.

At present, the proportion of large-city residents who live in collective housing exceeds 60%. According to a 1998 survey by the Statistics Bureau of the Management and Coordination Agency, 37.8% of the nationwide population lives in collective housing. In Tokyo, however, the figure is 70.1%; in Osaka it is 66.1%; in Fukuoka, 70.7%. This year, in a public opinion survey that the Prime Minister's Office conducted on attitudes towards pets, 58% of the respondents said, "If certain rules are followed, keeping dogs and cats in collective housing is fine." This represented a 16-point increase from the previous survey, conducted in 1990; moreover, people who accept keeping pets in collective housing now comprise the majority. Concomitantly, respondents who expressed opposition to keeping pets in collective housing decreased by 15 points, to 36%. It could thus be said that a consensus in favor of allowing pets in collective housing is now in the making. Of course, attitudes towards pets themselves still vary with the individual. And while pets-allowed collective housing is increasing, there are still various problems with how to build and manage such housing. At last year's Tokyo symposium, and at the symposia held this year as well, many people, especially people related to construction, real estate and management unions, considered how to create a society in which people and pets can live together in harmony.


Speeches and Video Corroborate Pet Problems in Collective Housing
Approaches to Solutions Traced
190 People Attend in Fukuoka, 200 in Osaka


The Fukuoka and Osaka symposia each consisted of speeches by four experts knowledgeable about pet issues and pets-allowed collective housing, a video produced by CAIRC, and the speakers answering questions from the audience; both symposia lasted up to four highly informative hours.

Each began with a greeting from CAIRC president, Yoichi Shoda.
"When there is a living creature nearby with which you can communicate emotionally," he said, "it conduces to a sense of peace and tranquility. In my work at the Zoological Park Society, I go to the Ueno Zoological Gardens, where I recently saw an interesting scene. A gorilla was holding something small in its hand and staring at it intently. When I looked through my binoculars, I saw that it was a wood louse. The gorilla put the wood louse on its lips, hid it in the hair on its head, playing with it. And as I watched, I thought that gorillas also enjoy having a small living creature nearby. People are different from gorillas, but for us, too, having a living creature, even a tiny one, in our presence can be important. And when that living being is a companion animal, like a dog or a cat, with which we can communicate emotionally, its significance can be limitlessly large, I think. I'm thus placing great hopes in the efforts of those of you who are engaged in one way or another in the field of pets-allowed collective housing."

The keynote speech, "The Healthy Society that Animals Will Bring About — the Benefits and the Problems," was given by Professor Mitsuaki Ota of Azabu University. At the time of the Kobe Earthquake, Professor Ota was living in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, and thus personally experienced the shaking. Subsequently, through the aftermath of the earthquake, he also researched the relationship between people and animals from various angles. Following the earthquake, many people lent their efforts to helping animals. "According to a survey conducted in Kobe," Professor Ota explained, "there were not a few victims who obtained the power to live from being able to help animals, or because they had an animal. Victims often derived a certain peace of mind from living with a pet." He also spoke about the relationship between people and animals through the subjects as the history of animal domestication, the role that pets play in human health, and his own research on the ability of animals to predict earthquakes from his standpoint of animal behavior study.

The 20-minute video produced by CAIRC was shown next. It focused on the "hardware" and "software" in Japan's first public-managed pets-allowed collective housing built in the recovery from the Kobe Earthquake, and in some of the newest pets-allowed collective housing; it also included interviews with housing residents. Together with Professor Ota's speech, it conveyed a sense of people's growing awareness of the psychological support that a loved companion animal can provide to its owner.

The next speech, "Living with Pets in Collective Housing as Viewed in Terms of the Architecture," was presented by Ms. Tomoko Kanemaki. Ms. Kanemaki is an architect active in the area of pets-allowed collective housing and also a pet owner who lives in collective housing. Her speech was thus rich in detail about such things as the common areas in pets-allowed collective housing and the facilities provided inside the individual units. Recently, as a means of explaining pets-allowed collective housing, a foot bath is often mentioned as an example of the facilities provided. "But when you ask the residents," she said, "you find that they do not often use it. Also, when it rains, they might wash their dogs' feet, but then they'll often go ahead and track up the lobby themselves with their dirty shoes.

"If a foot bath is going to be provided, it should be located where people take off their shoes — in the entry hall to their individual units. Moreover, facilities for living with pets are, in the last analysis, added value; they are not indispensable. And recently there's been a tendency to install too many facilities. When facilities are installed, maintenance fees go up. As most facilities are for dogs, only some of the tenants use them. However, all of the tenants have to pay for their maintenance, and that can be a source of trouble. In short, facilities are no guarantee that people and pets will be able to live together. It is more important, I believe, to develop the necessary 'software' than to provide 'hardware.'"

Ms. Kanemaki thus urged that "software" — ideas, attitudes, rules, organizations — that will enable people and pets to live together in collective housing be developed without delay.


Prohibiting Pets from Collective Housing Means Excluding Pets from Cities

The next speech, "Creating Community in Collective Housing — Establishing Pet Clubs and Keeping Animals," was given by Fumio Imoto, director of the Imoto Veterinary Hospital. Director Imoto is himself a founding member of the pet-owners' club in the collective housing where he lives. He began his speech by outlining the current situation at pets-allowed collective housing. In this connection, he cited a newspaper article about the management union of a condominium complex that changed the rules prohibiting pets, deciding to allow pets on certain conditions, such as the payment of 1,000 yen per month per pet as "rent," and also an article about the survey, by the Prime Minister's Office, indicating that people who approve of keeping pets in collective housing now comprise the majority. Based on these articles, he explained that the creation of a consensus in favor of allowing pets in collective housing is progressing, that more than 80% of young people have positive feelings towards pets, that people's values with regard to pets are changing. Then, based on his own experience, he talked about the need to establish pet owners' clubs and the way that such clubs should be run.

"Certain experts," he said, "have analyzed the course that people's feelings follow when trouble occurs with a neighbor. According to their findings, when people feel pain in certain situations, they will attribute responsibility for it to a particular person and seek to demand relief from that person; and if that demand is not to be met, anger will arise. For example, if a person feels that a dog's barking is loud but is unable to identify the dog's owner, he will tend to become angry at dog owners in general, considering them all to be irresponsible and reprehensible. However, if there is a pet owners' club, it can receive the complaint. That alone is often enough to change people's feelings. It also enables the complaint to be dealt with promptly. In the complex where I live, there were about 10 pet-related complaints a year before our club was founded. In the year following its founding, there were two complaints. And since then there have been none. In the six years since the club's founding, we have also succeeded in creating a sense of community through steady activities, such as cleaning up the excrement both on and around the complex's property and enlisting the complex's residents as a whole to change the green belt adjacent to the complex into a nature filled place by, for instance, planting bamboo trees. These activities have won the trust of residents, and been highly regarded by them, and are also, I think, linked to the absence of complaints during these past years. Pet problems are, in the last analysis, related to pets, but to solve them it is often necessary to promote communication and trust between the people involved, and for that, I believe, the kind of support provided by a pet owners' clubs can be enormously helpful. In conclusion, I would like to ask those of you in construction companies to build the kind of collective housing that people will want to live in for their entire lives, and those of you in real estate companies to sell such housing, and those of you in management companies to support such housing. In short, I'd like to ask you to try to create the kind of collective housing where people will want to live permanently."

The final speech, "Legal Problems with Keeping Pets in Collective Housing," was given by Masumi Yoshida, former professor in the Law Department of Doshisha University. Before retiring this fall, Professor Yoshida taught and specialized in warranty law, real estate law, condominium law and pet law. In the near future he intends to start a new career as a lawyer specializing in pet law.

"Formerly," he said, "the words 'apartment house' connoted a temporary residence. Nowadays, however, the words 'collective housing' imply a base and center for one's entire life. Considering that collective housing is a place where one might live for 50 years, creating collective housing where people can live together with pets could probably be called an important matter. Compared to Europe and the United States, Japan has a great deal of collective housing whose rules prohibit pets. However, in Article 2 of 1999-revised law related to protecting and managing animals, positive consideration was given to the rights of people to keep pets. That is, given the significance of collective housing in today's cities, prohibiting pets from collective housing in effect excludes pets from cities. It is also a violation of the purport of Article 2 of said law. Being able to keep a pet is a subject that is likely to become increasingly important as time progresses; if we just give it a little thought, we should be able to find a way to deal with it."

Professor Yoshida also spoke about pet issues in collective housing as a lawyer. "Ideally," he said, "the idea of self-rule by residents should be followed. However, it takes time, after moving in, to settle down and establish relations with the other residents, so, realistically, it's indispensable to create management rules so as to provide guidance and bridge the gaps in the meantime." Here he mentioned the newspaper article about being allowed to keep pets for an administrative expense of 1,000 yen per pet. "That is something that I think is acceptable as a temporary measure. But administrative expenses are determined based on the amount of area occupied. The number of people occupying the area is irrelevant. For the same amount of area, a family of two pays the same administrative expenses as a family of five. Why should it be necessary to pay separately for each pet? In addition, children use the common areas of collective housing more than pets do. In other words, I think this is a temporary measure conceived to win over people who have misgivings about living in the same building where pets are kept. Looking at it legally, this is by no means a reasonable approach. It might be necessary temporarily, but it is not a fundamental solution to the problem. I'd like you to understand that."


The Speakers Concurred on the View:
"Improving 'Software' Is Task for the Future"


After the speeches, the speakers formed a panel and answered questions from the audience for more than 40 minutes. In both symposia, the questions were numerous and varied, and revealed the thoughts and hopes, of companies related to construction, real estate and management unions, about the construction and management of pets-allowed collective housing.

One member of the audience at the Fukuoka symposium was Norio Sugimoto, president of the NPO Fukuoka Condominium Management Unions Confederation, one of the organizations supporting the symposium. "In Fukuoka, too," he said, "pet issues and the need for pets-allowed collective housing have been increasing. So when I first heard about this symposium, I thought it would be a timely and useful event. And now that I've heard the speeches, which covered such a wide range of topics, I've learned a great deal of valuable information. Recently someone living in an apartment building where pets are not allowed asked me, 'A questionnaire about keeping pets was distributed — what was that about?' Perhaps it was an indirect effect of this symposium. Given the flow of things in today's world, prohibiting the keeping of pets in collective housing is not the right thing. Eventually, when a consensus is reached and keeping pets in collective housing is accepted, living in collective housing will be, I think, that much more enjoyable and satisfying."

At each symposium, the audience members expressed their thoughts and feelings about the event through a questionnaire. From a construction industry member at the Fukuoka symposium, there was this comment: "I thought that increasing the 'hardware,' the facilities, would lead to an improvement of behavior, but now I realize that, with hardware, you just have to make it suitable to the characteristics of the animals, that the real problem is the 'software.'" The video was also regarded highly, as indicated by this comment from a construction industry member at the Osaka symposium: "Watching the video, I realized that, efforts have been promoted by the government in this area, and got a good idea of the direction in the future. From the role that pets played in providing psychological care following the Kobe Earthquake, and from hearing the opinion, from one of the earthquake victims interviewed in the video, that "a pet is a family member," I was also able to confirm my belief in the importance of allowing pets in collective housing." We were very pleased with these and the many other positive responses that we received. However, there was also this opinion, from a person in property management at the Fukuoka symposium: "I would have liked there to be more concrete examples." The main purpose of these symposia was to provide a broad range of information about living with pets in collective housing, but in certain respects, they did not go into extensive details. However, as a task for the future, we intend to delve deeply into specific issues of high demands and to provide concrete advice about them by holding seminars and through other means.

We hope that the symposia will prove useful for the audience members from construction companies, real estate companies, management companies and management unions in their future endeavors in building and administering collective housing. For our part, we of the Companion Animal Information and Research Center look forward to continuing to carry out diverse efforts aimed at promoting the harmonious coexistence of people and pets.


* These symposia were held with the support of the following organizations: NPO Fukuoka Condominium Management Unions Confederation, the Condominium Management Center, the Japan Veterinary Medical Association, the Osaka Prefecture Veterinary Medical Association, the Osaka City Veterinary Medical Association, the Fukuoka Prefecture Veterinary Medical Association, the Japan Society of Humane Care of Animals, and the Council for Animal Rearing in Collective Housing.

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