2023 年 46 巻 p. 75-92
The concept of “human-pet coexistence” in Japan has gained increasing attention of late, as evidenced in a bevy of policy-making by national and local governments, as well as by non-governmental associations. Despite this proliferation in governance concerning pet and human interaction, however, a plethora of media reports inform of considerable troubles and conflicts among pets and people, including ones involving no-pet owners on local streets, parks, and in communities. Yet, the policy of human-pet coexistence provides few tips for actors to rely on to solve these issues in real situations. Notwithstanding, the concept of human-pet coexistence itself has been called for in contemporary Japanese society.
This paper elaborates on troubles gone through by agents in Japan’s pet industry and actions taken by the agents to solve the issues, from 27 qualitative interviews and participant observation the author conducted in urban settings throughout 2022. It uncovers agents’ attitudes as they engaged with other actors in their fields. These practices appear to resonate with Okura’s (2020) concept of “engagement,” based on his study of a dog park in Berkeley, USA.
But the practice of engagement was not adequate to fully capture Japan’s case. Some agents in Japan insisted on the need for exiting from the troubled situation if they became entangled. What is more, this solution appeared appropriate, in as much as cats and dogs generally prefer to stay away from what they dislike, as some of my informants suggested. The conclusion finds that the human-pet relationships stand on a foundation of clear segregation between human and animal beings in contemporary Japan. If human-pet coexistence is desired in the manner noted by the informants in this study, more serious discussion among all stakeholders will be necessary to find an answer to the asymmetrical relationship that is the current norm of practice.