There are a number of no-kill shelters in the Japan. They do their best under difficult circumstances. They provide health care, food, some personal attention and daily walks, but most have little space and the animals are usually kept in small cages. Some remain there for years if they are not adopted.
Nonetheless this is better than the alternative of being sent to the city pound where euthanasia is generally the order of the day. According to the Japan Times, 200,000 dogs and cats are gassed each year (Scott). The article further states that 82% of the animals sent to public shelters in 2010 were put down. Most of the animals were cats (Scott). Many of them are puppies and kittens, particularly in rural areas (Shimizu). The method most often used is carbon dioxide gas, which is not in favor in most countries in the West as it causes suffering (Scott).
It is true that things have improved over the years. In 1997 the number of animals euthanized was about 650,000 (Shizume). Nonetheless, there is work to be done to improve the lot of unwanted animals in Japan.
The Environment Ministry began to encourage shelters to become “no kill” in 2009 by offering subsidies and other incentives (Shizume). In 2008 the Cabinet set aside funds to help new owners vaccinate animals adopted from public shelters (International).
The Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown created another difficult situation. Many animals were left behind when people evacuated the dangerous areas around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant because of radiation. After initially forbidding animal rescue groups to enter the area, the government relented and created guidelines that the groups had to follow (Jiji). One of the shelters which has taken animals from Fukushima is ARK, which is run by Elizabeth Oliver from the UK. ARK has shelters in both Osaka and Tokyo. Oliver says that the biggest challenge is getting enough funding to pay for the care of the...