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Japan lagging world in introducing livestock welfare standards

60 Comments
By Katsuhiro Maruyama

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60 Comments
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Here in the UK the general public expect all animals to be respected and their 5 freedoms are provided for.

Also there are very strict controls in place, no animal is given growth hormones or routine antibiotics, chicken is not washed in chlorine and eggs are unwashed. It is quite common to have a feather in a box. When a chicken lays an egg a protective layer is applied by the chicken naturally, this allows the egg to breath but blocks bacteria. Eggs are not refrigerated in shops as there is no need to.

17 ( +23 / -6 )

Wagyu is known for how well it treats the cows. I'm sure they could figure out a way to do it for other animals too and make it profitable.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Japanese eggs are unhygienic?

I eat raw eggs in Japan often.

Not so sure that I would do that in most other countries.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Too many animals are kept indoors. They should be outside in the fields.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Japanese can certainly understand what the right thing to do is.

They just need education on the subject.

As Capuchin has mentioned, the cattle that wagyu is from are treated extremely well.

So, why not chickens,pigs etc?

In general, the Japanese place animals below themselves and do not see a living being as having feelings or the ability to suffer.

Hopefully, this will change

8 ( +16 / -8 )

I don’t know. The article has the general “Japan is lagging behind” storyline.

Not all consumers “prioritize low prices.” Not saying it’s wrong, but seems short on information to substantiate the headline.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

According to Kenichi Takeda, an associate professor of animal behavior at the Faculty of Agriculture of Shinshu University, it is common to raise large numbers of livestock in cramped spaces in Japan. This is part of the reason why meat and dairy products are able to be sold at relatively low prices.

Another “professor” .. where in Japan can you buy dairy products and meat at relatively low price? The prices are ridiculous even with the cramped space, with “animal welfare” it would go into the highway robbery - category.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Chlorine baths are used in the USA poultry production, and other harmful chemicals such as, Ammonia, Carbon Monoxide and Bacteriophages, are used in meat production. On the bright side, chickens do not fart and burb so much as as cows and pigs, so that cuts down their methane emissions.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

They are freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress.

There are many nations where human beings are not provided these rights and if someone proposes they be provided they are labeled as "far-left socialists/Marxists" etc.

Some people question the value of engaging in a moral discussion about the living conditions of livestock animals that are ultimately bound for the dinner plate, reflecting a general apathy in the wider Japanese population.

Cage-free, free-range, antibiotic hormone-free is the way to go for the animal product consumers, but availability and expense are limiting factors in Japan.

One solution for Japan could be the rapidly falling costs, harm reduction and health of lab-grown "animal "products.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Japanese farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa got 2.5 years in prison.

Meanwhile the guy that bribed him is off building his next superyacht paid for by the mass production of eggs by keeping chickens in horrendous battery farming conditions.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@C Hard to have a farm on a mountain.

I disagree, I come from a mountainous region where suvcceesful farms abound, and having traveled around the world and seen numerous successful farming occur in all sorts of geographic areas.

Many Japanese claim to follow Shinto, which supposedly is based on animistic principles, and also claim to follow teachings of the Buddha which as I recall siad it's not compassionate to kill farm animals, suggesting also that the animals should not be harmed.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

As Capuchin has mentioned, the cattle that wagyu is from are treated extremely well.

Nope.

I don't know which farm you talking about. but to get the fatty marbling you need to limit the amount of exercise they get so packing them tightly into stalls is pretty much the norm.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@george santos: we have a farm in the states

Is raising zucchini in a back yard considered having a farm? Maybe for CV embellishers... LOL

5 ( +6 / -1 )

And the other thing is that the most of the Westerners (esp. White) do not eat yolk at all whether it is cooked or not. It's all fear.

Huh? Never met a person that did not eat the whole egg.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

With open land at a premium it is expensive for farmers to put their cattle out to pasture, or let their chickens run free.

It's easier with smaller animals like chicken, which require less space, but for cows, it's nearly impossible.

It's a double-edged sword, damned if you do, damned if you dont. Either let them run free, and watch end product prices skyrocket even further, keep them penned and costs down, or import. Not too many choices here.

4 ( +13 / -9 )

Wagyu is known for how well it treats the cows. I'm sure they could figure out a way to do it for other animals too and make it profitable.

And folks wonder why Japan can not get better at supplying food for it's own people and has to rely on imports to feed the population.

The average consumer can not afford wagyu or maybe you didnt notice. The economy isnt doing so great here now.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

The factory farming model in Japan (and elsewhere) exist primarily to minimize costs / maximize profits.

This means presenting a product to the consumers that is both palatable and relatively cheap.

The process by which that product was produced in animal welfare terms is of little or no consequence to both consumer and farmer.

Animal welfare comes down on the list of concerns. Keeping animals in shelters from the elements to keep them "safe" and feeding them, does not effectively satisfy the 5 freedoms components.

The argument that "Oh Japan is a narrow country with many mountains" is lame.

The govt has officially announced that 100,000s of hectares of farmland lies either abandoned or unused.

Meanwhile the intensive animal industry has made almost no attempt to change it's practices, resulting in epidemics of diseases such as bird flu and swine flu requiring the culling of millions of animals. And these incidents are not isolated.

Farmer Matsuzaki is to be commended for his efforts. I hope he can continue.

Bottom line is the buying public needs to be educated about animal farming practices which also include aquaculture.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I’m not sure if Japanese farmers will every understand let alone comply with any new changes

How about the huge US poultry industry like Tyson? I'm sure Tyson gives their chickens the royal treatment on a world standard. Is this article some kind of joke?

we have have a dozen chickens

I have 20 chickens, 2 cows, and three little pigs

3 ( +6 / -3 )

What is the point of having a farm in the States when you can't eat the produce?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

All predators on the ground and in the air love to eat chicken. That’s a problem.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The better welfare and proper treatment of farm animals apparently has a beneficial effect on human health as well . . .

https://academic.oup.com/af/article/9/4/39/5575470

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It is simple. The more we consume the more worse life standard. If you want to care about animal welfare than consume less.

I think most people are hypocrites.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Every month a big box of organic free range eggs is delivered to our house. The price is higher than standard mass produced eggs but the quality is excellent. This farmer is very concerned about animal welfare and the demand is strong, with a long waiting list.

Wagyu are in most cases not humanely raised whatsoever. I’m in Miyazaki, which often receives top Wagyu rankings in the country, and there are three farms near my house. Two of the farms leave their cattle knee deep in crap year round except for inspection visits. Their cattle never see the light of day. The cattle cry and scream at all hours and the vets regularly visit to supply medication. The whole purpose of Wagyu is to make them as obese as possible, with no exercise and very little movement.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@dagon

Hormone free? Do you know what hormones are?

https://www.fao.org/3/X6533E/X6533E03.htm

Fill in the lacunae yourself.

Animal welfare and factory farming are also human welfare issues.

The large amount of subsides to farmers that contributes to food loss, waste and goes into ag biz pockets should be used to improve conditions of animals on farms.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I guess strong regulations in Europe haven't worked so well.

https://bnn.network/world/france/outrage-erupts-over-shocking-animal-cruelty-in-french-livestock-industry/

Once again for those who know nothing about raising food profitably, farmer income depends on animal production, weight gain/kg of feed, litres of milk/cow or eggs per hen and all of those things improve when animals are treated well so farmers treat their animals well. Government regulations will not stop the bad behaviour of the very few who abuse their livestock.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress.

All these result in a better product, be it eggs milk or meat.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan lagging world

I am not sure that the whole "world" is ahead of Japan in this regard. Would you trust animal welfare in China for example?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And the other thing is that the most of the Westerners (esp. White) do not eat yolk at all whether it is cooked or not.

Yep, that about sums this debate/conversation up.

Good bit of accurate scientific information to sign out on.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

They keep their cows indoors all the time. Enough said.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

Many Japanese claim to follow Shinto, which supposedly is based on animistic principles, and also claim to follow teachings of the Buddha which as I recall siad it's not compassionate to kill farm animals, suggesting also that the animals should not be harmed."

Yeah, that must be why they have all those yakiniku restaurants everywhere.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Evil factory farming practices were not invented in Japan, that's for sure. Japan is definitely guilty but is far from the only one. To not even mention how the red and yellow clown burger joint and its suppliers operate is a HELL of an oversight.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"???? Maybe it has something to with Geography? 80% of Japan is mountainous. Hard to have a farm on a mountain."

'High on a hill a lonely goat herder' Switzerland and the alpine regions of Europe seem to manage to farm, along with Welsh sheep on the welsh mountains and Aberdeen Angus cows in Scotland. Me thinks commenter's are making excuses to avoid change.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While this would be ideal, remember the eggs in Japan are already the most expensive from all developed countries.

Very untrue.

A dozen eggs in a Japanese supermarket can be had for around 300 yen.

Here in Australia, you'd pay around $6 (600 yen) for a dozen.

I recall eggs being far pricier than Japan when I lived in London, too.

I'm assuming eggs are cheap in Japan due to them mostly being from caged hens? No doubt the price will rise if free-range takes off.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When asking for 平飼い卵 at an AEON adjacent supermarket the other day, I just got a blank stare from the staff. They had absolutely no idea what I was talking about lmao

I'm glad that at least LIFE Supermarkets carry a couple of different brands of free-range eggs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A dozen eggs in a Japanese supermarket can be had for around 300 yen..

They don't come in dozens here. And that 300 yen (for 10) is very recent. Until about 18 months ago it was around 150 yen for 10 in most supermarkets. Used to see them in special for around 99 yen (for 10 eggs).

No way those eggs are coming from ethically raised chickens.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@dagon

Hormone free? Do you know what hormones are?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

La vie douceToday  01:53 pm JST

Many Japanese claim to follow Shinto, which supposedly is based on animistic principles, and also claim to follow teachings of the Buddha which as I recall siad it's not compassionate to kill farm animals, suggesting also that the animals should not be harmed."

Yeah, that must be why they have all those yakiniku restaurants everywhere.

The practice of eating meat became widespread in the mid-late 1800s as the European influence entered Meiji Japan. The change in the average Japanese diet has had physiological changes over the years. If ytou want to try pre-1800s Japaese cuisine eat just fish/seafood or try a temple or restaurant that offers 精進料理.

Yakiniku is a Korean influence brought over by the many Korean immigrants to Japan. You still would be hard pressed to find a Yakiniku placre that doesn't have kimchi.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In Europe and Japan chickens are required to be vaccinated for the Salmonella virus. Not so in the US. That is why it is much safer to eat raw eggs in Japan (I have no idea whether that custom exists in Europe).

According to Wikipedia "the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that only 79,000 cases each year are the result of consuming eggs contaminated with Salmonella, of which only 30 result in death".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More articles like this JT.

It's ridiculous, but hardly surprising, that Japan has not followed the lead of developed nations and switched to large-scale free range farming models.

As hard as it is to put ethics aside, even for issues related to bird flu, free-range hens are considered far safer than battery hens in spreading the virus because they are far less likely to contract the virus in the first place. Free-range hens have access to outdoor areas, where they can roam, scratch for food, and engage in natural behaviors.

On the other hand, battery hens are raised in cramped conditions, in large, crowded sheds - with each chicken given a space smaller than an A4 sheet of paper, making it much easier for the virus to move from bird to bird.

Free-range hens are also typically healthier and have stronger immune systems than battery hens as well, which help them fight off the virus if they do become infected. Not to mention, their more varied and nutrient-dense diet, which can also contribute to their overall health and resilience.

One could say that chicken farms are a microcosm of Japan's stubborn refusal to embrace positive change in issues of animal welfare, demonstrating that their wellbeing is merely an afterthought. Hopefully stories like this can help be the catalyst for that change.

-1 ( +21 / -22 )

When a chicken lays an egg a protective layer is applied by the chicken naturally, this allows the egg to breathe but blocks bacteria. Eggs are not refrigerated in shops as there is no need to.

We have a farm in the States and you are absolutely correct, we have have a dozen chickens and nothing beats fresh farmed eggs, so different than store bought eggs. Animal hygiene is extremely important if you want quality eggs or meat, safety standards should never be compromised. I’m not sure if Japanese farmers will every understand let alone comply with any new changes.

-1 ( +18 / -19 )

???? Maybe it has something to with Geography? 80% of Japan is mountainous. Hard to have a farm on a mountain.

And cherry picking comments is pretty obvious too!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Previously, the Japanese government did not get involved in establishing animal welfare rules, instead leaving it up to industry groups to write their own.

The article also says the government is not establishing rules, just guidelines. This is just tatemae to make Japan appear to be in touch with world standards.

Garymalgren, I doubt you eat truly raw eggs. Japanese eggs are pasteurised before they are sold. If you don't believe me, do a quick search. You will be surprised.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

And folks wonder why Japan can not get better at supplying food for it's own people and has to rely on imports to feed the population.

???? Maybe it has something to with Geography? 80% of Japan is mountainous. Hard to have a farm on a mountain.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

The problems with free range chicken farming, is with foxes and racoons dogs. decimating flocks. Both are consider sacred In Shinto. So large scale flocks are expensive to protect from these predators in Japan, Unlike most western countries where gun and farmer are one. Japan it rare for a farm to have a gun or even trap. Yes they can adapt but without the use of firearms profession and trapping just make the product more labour intensive and more expensive to produce. So back to rice farming where I still have the infrastructure and a constant market. Also In North Japan the eggs and meat flock are housed 24 /7 for 5 months of the year due weather.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Japan lagging world...

A lot of statements can begin with those three words.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

While this would be ideal, remember the eggs in Japan are already the most expensive from all developed countries. Introducing forced rules like this will make them even more expensive...

Fruits are an example.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The more I live in Japan the more I despise their business ethics.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Farm animal welfare in the world? If there is such a thing ! why are we still eating them?

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Outside cruelty, I don't care about animal welfare that ais bound to be eaten. Growing meat is a business, not an emotional process.

I am all for biodiversity conservation on the other side and that should be the only concern.

Treat nature well, your pets and neighbours, leave the rest to the concerned people.

When we will colonize Mars, don't expect for the livestock to graze in a meadow...

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

In UK, eggs are kept outside at shops but after people buy, they keep it in the fridge. Doesn't make any sense.

White eggs are also recently getting more in stock than those normal brown colored eggs.

Also in UK, every eggs are stamped, which is in doubt whether they are really cage free. They just simply put feather to make it look like it's hand picked from the open farm.

And the other thing is that the most of the Westerners (esp. White) do not eat yolk at all whether it is cooked or not. It's all fear.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Animal hygiene is extremely important if you want quality eggs or meat, safety standards should never be compromised. I’m not sure if Japanese farmers will every understand let alone comply with any new changes.

Hear! Hear!

-13 ( +13 / -26 )

Completely unnecessary regulations. Farmer income depends of treating livestock well so they treat livestock well.

-17 ( +0 / -17 )

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