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Back to Regulations Concerning the Private Possession of Big Cats

I.  Permit Requirements for the Care of Specified Animals

Japan’s Act on Welfare and Management of Animals contains a provision regulating the care of specified animals that may cause harm to the life, body, or property of humans.[1]  Big cats, including tigers, are listed as such dangerous animals.[2]  

A person who cares for a specified animal must receive a permit from the prefectural governor having jurisdiction over the location of the facility for the care and keeping of such animal.  A permit is required for each kind of specified animal.  When a veterinarian cares for or keeps a specified animal in a medical facility for the purpose of medical care, he or she does not need a permit, however.[3]

A person who applies for a permit must report the following, among other things:

  • Kind and number of specified animals
  • Purpose of the care or keeping
  • Location of the specified animal facility
  • Structure and size of the specified animal facility
  • Method of caring for or keeping the specified animals[4]

The last two items—structure and size of the facility and method of care—must conform to the standards specified by the Ordinance of the Ministry of the Environment.[5]  The structure of the facility must be strong enough to prevent the animal from escaping, with the specific requirements in this regard depending on the animal.[6]  The design drawing of the facility and photos of the facility must be submitted.[7]

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II.  Permit Conditions and Enforcement Measures

The prefectural governor may attach conditions to a permit when he or she finds it necessary for preventing specified animals from causing an infringement on the life, body, or property of humans.[8]  The caretaker must periodically inspect the specified animal facility.[9]  Specified animals must carry identification, such as an implanted microchip for mammals and foot rings for birds.[10]  The governor may request that a specified animal caretaker provide reports on the status of specified animal facilities, the method for the management of the specified animals handled, and other necessary matters, or have prefectural officials enter the specified animal facilities.[11] 

In the case where a specified animal caretaker has violated the conditions and the prefectural governor finds it necessary for preventing the specified animals from causing an infringement on the life, body, or property of humans, the governor may order said person to improve the method of caring for or keeping the animals or take other necessary measures.[12]

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III.  Zoos

In order to open and run a zoo, a person or an organization must obtain a permit from the governor.  The Act sets forth requirements on the structure and size of zoos, and the method of caring for the animals held.[13]

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Sayuri Umeda
Foreign Law Specialist
June 2013

 

[1] Dōbutsu aigo hō [Act on Welfare and Management of Animals], Act No. 105 of 1973, last amended by Act No. 68 of 2005, art. 26.

[2] Dangerous animals are listed in a chart attached to the Enforcement Order of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals, Cabinet Order No. 109 of 1975, last amended by Order No. 8 of 2012.

[3] Act on Welfare and Management of Animals art. 26, para. 1.

[4] Id. art. 26, para. 2.

[5] Id. art. 27, para. 1.

[6] Enforcement Ordinance of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals, Ministry of Environment Ordinance No. 1 of 2006, last amended by Ordinance No. 8 of 2013, art. 17.

[7] Id. art. 15.

[8] Act on Welfare and Management of Animals art. 27, para. 2.

[9] Id. art. 31.

[10] Id.; Enforcement Ordinance of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals art. 20, item 3.

[11] Id. art. 33.

[12] Id. art. 32.

[13] Id. art. 10.

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Last Updated: 02/28/2014