Rebekah: Yui, tell us a bit about your organization Pawer., and the philosophies you founded it on.
Yui: Pawer. is where “Paw”s get “Power” meaning that the voices of animals are heard and spread. Pawer. is a platform of various information about animal welfare.
You can imagine it as a train station. It’s a place for people to stop by and get information and access animal welfare education. They are all at different levels of awareness but when they leave, I hope to see a difference or raise in their awareness.
Pawer. is not there to tell people what to do, it is there to help people to make the right decisions. I think of one of the biggest reasons why Japan is behind in animal welfare is that the awareness is low, and we lack of information and education, (Another reason is the huge pet industry..) so I wanted to provide those two: Information and Education. For example, there are still many people who don’t know about pet adoptions or shelters, most people think buying one is the only way, and don`t understand where the animals at said shops actually come from.
The philosophy behind Pawer. Is the belief that being kind to all lives will enrich our minds which will create a better society. A better society will in turn make life better for all, and it will continue as a cycle of kindness.
When did your interest in animal rights begin?
It was when I realized the reality of how shelter animals were being euthanized during my stay in California. I grew up with animals and always rescued them while I was in Japan, but I finally got the chance to get involved in animal welfare when I was an university student of CA and decided to volunteer at an animal shelter there. There was one pitbull that I had a special bond with, her name was Lena. She was healthy and friendly but euthanized without any notice one day.
I was shocked, and started to research what was going on in the world of animal welfare. Then I was shocked further as to how my own country treat dogs and cats.
There is a lot of cruelty in Japan.
What information do you wish was more available to the Japanese public that you believe would change the fate of animals?
I believe if Japanese society was to know more about the existence of animal shelters, organizations, and the lives of animals in said shelters, the idea of animal adoption, the greatness of mixed breed animals, the truth behind the pet industry, and more detailed information about the pets people buy, eg lifespan, size per breed, medical needs etc (as pet owners can often be uneducated on these attributes which leads to pets winding up in animal shelters). However, more than anything, I wish people would see dogs and cats as living creatures or family members rather than just pets that will be there for you only when you need them.
In your experience, how do animal rights in Japan compare with animal rights in other countries you’ve traveled to?
I have visited shelters in the U.S., England, and Germany, and one major difference is the animal law. The countries listed above have laws to protect animal rights and regulate people, but we lack these laws in Japan. This leads to another big difference in the pet industry. We don’t have strong legal enforcement to regulate abuse and cruelty and even with the regulations that do exist, they are just words on paper and not effective enough to ensure people follow the correct manner regarding animals.
What are you doing with Pawer. currently, and what visions do you hold for the future?
Currently we are trying to raise awareness and spread information as much as possible. We also visit animal shelters and organisations in order to see the reality of the situation and report factual information. We write articles about our research for a newsletter about mostly cats and dogs called “Hitomi to Shippo”, and spread this information also via SNS. We also hold a ‘dignity of life’ class for children in various schools, in order to educate children in a manner that they can make their own informed choices about their roles in the lives of animals around them. We also attend The International Companion Animal Welfare Conference, which is an incredible event to connect with likeminded people, hoping to change the future of our animal companions.
By actively participating in the above, Pawer. aims to decrease the number of dogs and cats taken into shelters every year in Japan, and increase the save rate. As for the future; our next goal after dogs and cats is to work on the issue of animal testing.
Do you see with an increasing awareness of animal protection, that veganism and a lesser consumption of meat, as part of the near future in Japan? As the founder of Pawer., are you interacting with other likeminded agencies with similar goals?
I think the awareness in animal protection will increase. It may be a slow start, but we believe it will capture people’s attention because of the preference for healthy food. Because of our culture, it may be hard for people to understand animal rights and ecological footprints when it comes to food, but many just need to be given the opportunity to be educated about these concepts.
We interact with other animal welfare organizations in and outside of Japan to exchange information and ideas. There is always something new to learn!