"Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it”

Animal Rights in Asia – Meet Vivian

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As an influencial Japanese activist and demonstrator, Vivian and her fellow friends have demonstrated outstanding commitment and compassion to many abusive animal regimes. Those who believe all Asians are cruel and barbaric to animals should read this touching interview that we hope will open the eyes of many.

Animal and environmental abuse can provoke great anger and emotion worldwide, which can cause many people to lose control and voice more than their basic opinions or thoughts. Racist comments and death threats has made us concerned that the animal and environmental community is being blackened by such derogatory and abusive comments.

Since the beginning of 2011 the International Animal Rescue Foundation.Org and Speak Up For the Voiceless.Org have noticed many derogatory and racial comments on our more controversial posts featuring topics such as the dog and cat meat trade, dolphin and whale slaughter and the fur trade. There seems to be more hatred directed at the entire population of Asia than that of the individual abuser, user or producer featured in the stories.

We do not support hateful, racist or derogatory comments, whether it be toward abusers or the countries as a whole.  Should such comments not cease immediately we will no longer post such stories and investigations, which will only decrease awareness and monetary funding to those causes within Asia that require important, daily funding for an array of animal and environmental issues and projects.Racism and hatred toward any community or country will no longer be tolerated!

For example: “I wish an atom bomb would drop onto Asia; Asian chinks should all be slaughtered; burn all Asians,” to the most upsetting: “all Asian children should be burned at birth,” are just a few of the most disgusting and revolting comments that have appeared on our posts. Why blame the entire community for animal and environmental abuse committed by a minority of people? Furthermore, why throw racial comments at an abuser? These issues have nothing to do with race – it is animal abuse that we must all focus on, not hatred toward an entire race or culture.

This month we focus on Animal Rights within Japan. A country known for its abuse of whales in the Australian-owned Arctic territory, the illegal animal parts trade and the fur trade, it is also andmost importantly known for its animal rights activism a movement that is now taking Japan by storm. On the 12th of December 2013 we conducted a brief interview via email with one of Japan’s most influential animal rights activists.

Meet Vivian, who has been working to eradicate animal abuse and highlight these atrocities despite governmental suppression and public hatred. Vivian is one of many activists who we admire who shows courage and determination, especially for one of such a young age. Harvey Allmendinger, our Environmental Protection Team Leader, had a chance to interviewe Vivian, an interview that paints a more positive light on the positive treatment of animals within Asia, a reality that many people around the world fail to recognise.

Animal Rights Japan – What the World Needs to Know

Harvey – Vivian, how would you best describe yourself as an Asian activist for the voiceless?
Vivian – I am an activist who raises animal rights activists and leads them to Veganism / Vegetarianism by providing a lot of important information and creating awareness.

Harvey – Vivian, what inspired you to become a voice for the many thousands of innocent animals within Japan and how long have you been demonstrating?
Vivian – I have loved animals since my childhood and have always wanted to do something for animals. In 2007, I saw a documentary TV show featuring a woman who manages a shelter to protect animals that are abused or poached by people in Colombia.  The abuse against those animals was terrible and hard to believe.. It made me sick and I cried for about a week, unable to contain myself. I thought that I must go to the shelter in Colombia, but I didn’t know how to get there. I looked for the information on the Internet and found that there is lots of animal abuse in our everyday life, and in Japan too, such as animal testing and the fur and skin trade. Animals exist as economical objects for humanuse . After discovering that I become a member of NPO JAVA (Japan Anti-Vivisection Association) in Japan, and started my activism for animals in earnest around 2009, so it’s been about for four years.

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Harvey – Where have you been the most successful as an animal activist, for example, have you managed to change laws, have you changed the way a dog breeding farm works or have you stopped abuse in some other way?
Vivian – With Shiseido, the largest cosmetic company in Japan, which has stopped their Animal Testing (except for in China). JAVA started a negative boycott campaign to stop Shiseido’s Animal Testing in 2009. We conducted demonstration marches in front of Shiseido stockholder meetings in Tokyo and Osaka and asked stockholders to pressure the company to stop animal testing. JAVA also collected signatures through the Internet and a newspaper advertisement, and then handed over about 46,000 signatures to Shiseido. These activities were featured by the media , which attracted people’s attention the fact that animal cosmetic testing is a social problem in Japan. In March 2010, fter about a year after starting the campaign, Shiseido announced that they would begin an effort to abolish animal testing, and in Feb. 2013 they officially announced they would abolish animal testing for all their cosmetics (including materials and commissioning manufacturer) which they began two months later (except for China).
This was a huge victory for animals and for us. Many people’s voices moved the big mountain, Shiseido, and it proved that our movement and our activities were able to bear fruit.

Harvey – Vivian, what you and JAVA have accomplished is amazing and we thank you for so much for your dedication and hard work. People like you and those at JAVA show the world that the Asian community does care about animals.
So what has been your largest demonstration, why did you demonstrate and did it make a difference? I am asking why because it shows the animal welfare community outside of Japan how capable and passionate Asian activists are about making change.
Vivian – Our first demonstration against eating meat in Japan took place on July 18th, 2010 Sunday. This was the first demonstration against eating meat in Japan, and it played an important role in raising the awareness of the Japanese people.

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Harvey – What are your thoughts about the fur and meat trade of dogs and cats?
Vivian – I am absolutely against the fur and meat trade of dogs and cats. Japanese people love dogs and cats, and most don’t know that dogs and cats are killed for fur and meat. I want them to know the truth. I think if the Japanese people knew the truth, they would be shocked and it would be an opportunity to think about those issues and stop them .

Harvey – Whenever Speak Up For the Voiceless.Org and many other animal and environmental organisations create awareness about the dog and cat meat and fur trade within Asia we receive such harsh racial slurs against Asians. The general public does not understand that those who do the abusing are only a minority and instead, they blame all Asian citizens. What are your thoughts on this and do you have a message to those people that brand all Asians as cruel to animals?
Vivian – I think the culture that eats dog and cat meat, as well as dolphin and whale, has to be criticized. However, in Asian countries, I guess many people think the culture is is comprised of elderly people and out of date – many don’t even know about the culture. I think if more people knew the facts they would see that this culture is wrong and not humane. I want those people who think all Asian people are cruel to know these things and that many people within Asia are also upset about this cruelty .

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Harvey – When we document the cruel abuse that animals suffer within Asia we are met with comments such as, “boycott Asian products.” What are your thoughts about this and do you think it is fair for people to ask for this knowing that boycotts affect innocent Asian citizens and can potentially harm them economically?
Vivian – When we want to solve these problems, we have to consider doing more effective, productive and meaningful things and organize a plan. Products are produced because the consumer wants to buy them. I think if the consumer stops buying products made in countries that abuse animals or made from abused animals, the products will not be produced, so that can be effective, however, to boycott Asian or some other country’s products indiscriminately is not good or effective.

Harvey – Thank you for explaining that, Vivian. I do believe that if people boycotted products that are made from abused animals then this would be very beneficial . To boycott an entire country is not good or very effective and can have disastrous effects for many, even those who are actively fighting to stop abuse.

I see that you have been working on many issues such as anti-fur, anti-vivisection, no kill / adopting, vegetarian / anti meat-eating, animal welfare. Please describe what your role is with these projects and how influential you have been – have you made change happen, and if so, how did this make you and others feel?

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Vivian – I did succeed in spreading awareness through many actions and to many people through demo marches, panel exhibitions, leafleting, SNS, blog, BBS and so on. I’ve also appealed to many companies, administrations and governments etc. to save animals via stopping animal testing, killing dogs and cats, to making effective laws to protect animals and so on via telephone, fax, e-mail and mail, as well as offering information about living a cruel-free lifestyle by becoming vegan/vegetarian, boycotting products that use animal testing and promoting vegan products. One of our most successful actions was Shiseido’s Stop Animal Testing boycott campaign. I think it is most important to spread facts and awareness but also the facts on what and how to do even one little thing to help animals. Over the several years my fellow activists and friends have beenspreading these facts awareness I received so many reactions such as, “I was shocked I became a vegan/vegetarian,” or, “I didn’t know these facts, thank you for telling me,” or, “I will start doing something to help animals, like you,” or, “I want to join in your activities because I want to be voice of animals”. All of these comments encourage me and make me feel glad I have been doing these things . We have to continue widening the circle of awareness.

Harvey – Vivisection is an appalling act of animal abuse. What is your message to the European and American vivisectionists that take animals from Asia to use and barbarically torture?
Vivian – Honestly, I want them to stop every vivisection now since they are meaningless and wrong from the point of view of ethics and science and for people and animals. Also, the transportation of these animals, which places them in very stressful conditions for long periods of time, is unacceptable. Harvey – Your demonstrations in Japan look very effective and colourful Many activists across the globe often have issues with police suppression. . What are your thoughts on this and have you or a friend ever experienced police brutality?
Vivian – In my area most policemen are polite and good to us, as well as cooperative, as we are, so I have never felt bad around them. Some of them have actually praised our activities and our demonstrations .

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Harvey – Vivian are you a vegetarian or vegan? What made you turn to (either) and why?
Vivian – I’m a strict vegan because I want to help animals and don’t want to eat them. Many animals will not be produced and killed if I stop eating or using animals. I stopped eating meat and became a vegan once I become aware of animal abuse and understood that many animal rights activists are vegan / vegetarian. I think veganism is a non-violent lifestyle, and to become vegan is just a starting point for me. For animals, environments, people and our earth, we can do many more and very simple things to put a brake on this mass production / consumption / destruction economy. We need to popularize being vegan.

Harvey – The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have been actively making great progress against the whaling business by lowering kill rates and highlighting abuse. However, SSCS has come under great fire from the Japanese and other governments for its effective non-violent campaign. What is your position on the whaling business, do you believe that Japan must stop whaling to protect future marine conservation sites and mammals and what are your thoughts on the consumption of whale meat and why the Japanese culture should end it?

Vivian – I think Japan must stop whaling now for the conservation of the environment and the animals. Whaling is continued due to our taxes for political concessions and earns copious profits for only few people. There is actually a surplus on many whale meats, whichcauses low demand, so it is unnecessary.

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Harvey – The International Animal Rescue Foundation has been actively fighting against the use of rhinoceros horn as pseudo medicine in the traditional Chinese medicine trade. . Rhinoceros in Asia and India are brutally slain for their horns, which are hacked off to feed this repulsive trade in Asia. What are your thoughts on this and do you have a message to say to the Asian and non-Asian Rhino horn medicine-using community?
Vivian – Hunting rhinoceros is so cruel and this abuse should never be accepted – we must stop it soon. Humands need to stop using animals for their own selfish desires.

Harvey – Every 15 minutes an elephant is barbarically killed in Africa just to provide ivory, better known as white gold. We are losing a staggering 35,000+ elephants a year due to the fact that many Asian individuals believe that the elephants tusk can be removed without killing the animal . What are your thoughts on this and have you demonstrated against the use of rhino and ivory parts, as well as the poaching of these two mammals?
Vivian – This is also horrible – hunting rhinoceros and elephant must stop now. A lot of substitutes already exist, so there is no reason to use real ivory. I have signed some petitions and spread these facts throughout the Internet to help stop this abuse.

Harvey – Millions of dogs and cats are left homeless every year internationally and locally within Japan because of animal neglect and abuse. What work have you done to promote a no-kill policy and the adopt, don’t shop philosophy?
Vivian – It’s so shameful that we have not stopped this kind of slaughter in our own country. The number of animals abandoned at (animal shelters) is still big. Most of them are unwanted kittens, so we have also promote sterilization http://ejje.weblio.jp/content/sterilization and castration operations to help control the unwanted cat population. Also, to stop killing animals, we have to abolish the commercial pet industry. I have been involved in many educational actions such as demonstration marches, leafleting, panel exhibitions and Internet awareness spreading as well as posting our demands to stop the needless killing of animals. Additionally, I have visited administrative facilities (animal shelters) that have many animals and kill animals and had meetings with those in charge. The Law of Humane Treatment and Management of Animals of Japan were revised slightly in 2013, but it is not strong enough and has not been used efficiently yet. We have to continue our educational activities, and make many more people understand why they should choose to adopt, not shop.

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Harvey – That’s amazing, Vivian – your contributions and hard work are breathtaking. You really do show such love and compassion and possess such a strong voice for stray animals within your country and others. Well done!
I would like to take this opportunity in thanking you, Vivian, for answering my questions and to thank your fellow activists at JAVA for such outstanding work and achievements. It really goes to show that the Asian community does care, hates animal abuse and that there are only a minority of people that actually do kill and abuse animals. Knowing that few people within Japan are actually aware of such abusive regimes can only inspire us to promote and support all Asian activists and create more awareness about their works.
“ “My aim is not only to stop animal abuse but also to change our current mass production, consumption, destruction economy,” says Vivian. “I will fight to end the suffering of animals until the end of my life.”

Now who can say that all Asian citizens are animal abusers who will kill anything? International Animal Rescue Foundation and Speak Up For the Voiceless actively supports many Asian activists whose work to reduce animal cruelty and change laws to protect animal welfare we will continue to highlight. Vivian is a young, passionateactivist that has committed her life to animal welfare – we can’t thank her and comrades enough for working so hard to create such positive change for animals in their country .

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