Japan forges ahead on humane education

ACTAsia was invited by KNOTS, a Japanese animal protection organisation, to run workshops on humane education in Osaka and Tokyo on November 12 and 13th, 2011.

Over 100 participants attended the workshops. Japan has realised the importance of humane education and the need for different stakeholders and experts to be involved, as could be seen from the varied background of the participants, who included vets, local government officials, psychologists, university and vocational college teachers and students, school and kindergarten teachers, and members of animal protection organisations.

According to Kayoko Tominaga, Chairperson of KNOTS: “We Japanese have a passion for humane education, and these workshops are just the beginning. Now we have to gather more information and join forces to develop our humane education programmes. These workshops have been a great help in laying a foundation, and are especially timely as our animal welfare laws are currently being revised.”

The workshop consisted of presentations on the principles of animal welfare and humane education, research on this subject, and different methods of implementing humane education programmes. They were also given a case study to discuss in groups and present to the audience, which gave them an opportunity to share their work and thinking with each other.

Local government authorities have taken the lead in promoting humane education in many parts of Japan, with the vets at their animal pounds (called animal well-being centres) also making humane education a priority. At some of the well-being centres special areas have been set up for humane education, with interactive exhibits and activities for children from local schools. The vets also go out to schools and hold public events to promote responsible pet ownership and dog bite prevention. At the workshop, vets from the local animal pounds and private clinics spoke about their humane education activities, helping participants to understand the resources and programmes that already exist in their country that they can share and apply to their own situation.

Participant feedback on the workshop was very positive. One participant said: “I came here to learn about the principles and methods of humane education, and I was happy with what we covered. We need to reflect on this and learn how to apply it to Japan’s situation. I also found the participant discussions very useful, as we found common ground from which to develop, and the workshop has acted as a trigger to help our development.” According to another participant, this was the first time she had been exposed to the term humane education. She added: “It was useful to see the value of animals as part of education, as we don’t know much about this subject.”

For more pictures on humane education and animal well-being centres in Japan, please take a look at our photo album on Facebook.

ACTAsia would like to thank KNOTS for inviting us to be a small part of these humane education efforts, and we felt that the response to the workshops was very positive, with most participants interested in developing their programmes and open to new ideas.