Furious East / Japan, the number of pets has exceeded the number of children

According to the Japan National Pet Food Association, Japan is the first country in the world where pets exceed the number of babies. Data have not been confirmed (it appears that the United Kingdom and the United States have reported similar incidents) but it is true that in Japan (but also in other Eastern countries, such as China and Korea) a real boom in recent years has been widespread in Japan, even a little more bizarre. Cats predominate, such as insects (many children “train” local examples of kites with immense promise and affection), but more: 9 million, as opposed to 7 million dogs. According to Masahiro Miyamoto, author of an interesting article on the subject, “neconomics” (“neko” in Japanese means cat, hence “cat economy”) is worth 2 trillion yen in Japan, which is about িয়ন 200 billion. And it’s growing steadily: it was one of the few that grew during the epidemic, and it’s not hard to understand why. Even compared to dogs, cats are much more “durable”: less aggressive, more quiet, they don’t have to be with outsiders. And yet it is increasingly difficult to find apartments and condominiums that accept them. Some time ago I saw with my own eyes a notice outside the window of a real estate agency, where it was clearly indicated that no pet or “gaijin” (foreigner) was welcome.

A constantly expanding market, also in related industries: from food to clothing, from gyms to beauty salons, from spas to dedicated restaurants. This is a recent trend: in Japan, especially in the evenings, there are very few restaurants that accept pets (often children are not even welcomed), but now there are “family restaurants” that also accept dogs and cats with children. Which is dedicated to a special menu. Jimbocho, in the famous Tokyo Book District, has a bookstore that is now very popular: it’s called Nanko-do (“nan” is the local onmatopoia that is the equivalent of our “meo”). The owner, Fumio Anegawa, was about to close almost a year ago, then on the advice of his wife, a cat lover and the “Hello Kitty” line, he decided to try special publications. Now there are rows outside the store, especially on weekends. And official recognition in 2020. Among many national holidays, the government has established the national day of cats “Neko no Hai”. It falls on the 22nd of February. So, a better life for Japanese cats: those who now find themselves wandering the city streets in beautiful prawns, wrapping up expensive costumes signed by major designers, and those who no longer have to fear the sudden onslaught of the evil “Nekogari” (“cat hunters”) For centuries, cats hunted at night for cat skins and sold their precious skins to “shamisen” manufacturers, a traditional Japanese wire instrument.
But be careful, because there is less “Kawai” aspect here (clever, a very common word in Japan). Like all fashions, the love of pets is very fleeting. Like clothing, the market is also in charge of puppies and kittens: one-year-old Chihuahuas are in fashion, the other dachshunds. And the same goes for the more sophisticated and alas cruel market for cats. “Unfortunately, pets are considered an accessory, an option. Even if the situation changes somewhat, especially among young people, there are many owners who decide to get rid of it. And in Japan you can do it quickly and without problems.” By Michiko Kobayashi, author of a very popular blog that deals with, among other things, finding a “home” for dogs and cats that has become “useless.”

But it is not easy. The “used” market is virtually non-existent, and the state is filling it in such a way that it is as effective as being cruel. Typically, call your pet at a telephone number in “Hokenshow”, the equivalent of our health district, to “leaf”. In Japan, pets are not abandoned: they are exterminated. And so here comes the terrifying death trucks, which are clearly called “dream cars”. These are small vans with a sealed container, where poor animals are loaded and gas is given on the way to the crematorium. The dose of injection through the tube is the same. There are those who die almost instantly, but large animals suffer much longer. Lately, many municipalities are using teams of volunteers who try to persuade owners to call first, then go home and think again. But without much success: Euthanasia’s rights to pets are included in the law, and the authorities must comply if the owner insists. According to official figures, more than 200,000 animals are killed each year in Japan. They are about 500 every day.

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