Japan, back to the roots
About nutrition and the relationship between human beings and animals in the old and „modern“ Japan.
"Funeral Feast" in Japanese
The animal rights classic „Funeral Feast“ was released by Dr. Helmut Kaplan under the title “Shitai no bansan” in Japan on 20th March 2005. This is the first book for animal rights in Japanese writ. Astonishingly, the book became immediately number one of a book store chain and got the highest valuation of five stars. It seems that the thought of animal rights is still available latently in the subconscious mind of the Japanese due to the long vegetarian Tradition. This thought has just to be inspired in the Japanese.
Stefan Bernhard Eck
born on 8.1.1056 in Homburg/Saar
Leader/ spokesman Animal Rights & Ethics - A.K.T.E. www.tierrechteportal.de www.frasskultur.de
Japan becomes vegetarian
Also the old vegetarian traditions of China which owe undoubtedly to the influence of Buddhism have been supported by the new powers of Japan with the publication of the “Taika” edict on New Year’s Day in 646. This edict is a widespread political and social reform after the overthrow of the Soga-Clan one year ago.
Consumption of meat forbidden
The consumption of meat has been forbidden under emperor Temmu some time later. His successor commanded the release of all birds in 721. In 725, the next heir apparent, emperor Seimu, ordered that all horses and water buffalos which are deployed for agriculture are not allowed to be slain any more. The population ate mainly vegetable products like rice in particular, seaweed and algae, vegetables and fruits at this time. But they also still ate fish and mussels.
Abdicated emperors which had taken the Buddhist pledge and had retracted in cloisters undertook the administration of the country on behalf of the governing emperors in the middle of the 11th century. In 1127, the fishing as been forbidden as well due to the influence of these abdicated emperors and Japan became a vegetarian country as a matter of fact.
At this time, no animals were slain for food purposes any more but they have been still used as working animals for agriculture. Dogs were kept as well which had to guard their house and yard.
A vegetarian nation was born
This vegetarian nation maybe just became true as Japan was almost cut off from the rest of the world for many centuries. The Japanese nation abided by their Buddhistic and Shintoistic traditions luckily for human beings and animals. Although they came in contact with western ideologies after the fizzled try of Christianization by the Portuguese Jesuit-Monk Francisco de Jassu y Xavier (known as „holy Franz“) in 1549.
To maroon animals was forbidden
Around the end of the 17th century the fifth Shogun Tsunajoshi proclaimed a law in which it is among other things forbidden to maroon animals. This law became known under the name “Awareminorei”. The strict laws for animal rights were indeed eased after his death but a huge part of the Japanese population continued to live on vegetarian, especially the upper-class.
Missionaries were expelled from the country, Japan remained vegetarian
If each try of proselytization and colonization had been successful the vegetarian utopia would have found its end about 300 years earlier. At those time, it had been proselytized and colonized mostly at the same time. Normally, fire and swords were used and this was not used for the „greater honour of god“ but also for the refreshing replenishment of royal and papal coffer and caskets of gold. People and animals did not even get a grace period.
Lux ex oriente – The light from the east
The vegetarian Utopia was in no case underdeveloped, at the most in the sector of (weapon) technologies. In the 18th century, Edo which was then capital city of the Japanese empire was the biggest city of the world with on million inhabitants and was centre of a sophisticated and prosperous economy in the preindustrial world. That means: “Lux ex oriente” in many respects.
The harm came from the west
Calamitas ex occidente! In the middle of the 19th century American whaler invaded in the water bodies abundant in fish offshore Japan to held down their bloody handcraft. The whaling boats had been captured by the Japanese marine and the crew had been detained on boats near the coast. Finally, this was the long looked for reason for America to enforce their economical interests – the way to the Japanese market – by means of gunboat diplomacy.
On 31. March 1854 commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry enforced the underwriting of the contract of Kanagawa. This was a commercial agreement between Japan and USA which ensure the western nations considerable advantages, including the extraterritoriality privilege of their commercial settlement on Japanese ground. The end of the vegetarian utopia was heralded therewith.
Government determine vegetarianism
Just 30 years later, the motto of the government of the young emperor Mutsuhito was Meiji („enlightened government“). He chose the name Meiji-Tenno as his tile of emperor. But an enlightening can also lead to a blindness. The end of the old Japan had arrived because the Meji-reforms were orientated on western standards first of all. There was no space anymore for the vegetarian tradition in the modern Japan. The country was open-minded against the west and its capital became Tokyo. Finally, the country was “Americanized” after the unconditional capitulation on 14. August 1945: daily school lunch with milk according to American model although most Asians tend to lactose incompatibility, chicken- and beef-burger made in USA – generally spoken– the American way of life was conventionalized to enjoyment of life.
Today: Fastfood & animal murder made in USA
Today, Japan is beleaguered by American fast food influences as other countries as well in which the per-capita income promises juicy gains. Country specific fast food chains which satisfy the Asian gusto (beef on rice) and Yakitori (roasted chicken) are market leaders. These chains were developed on American standards in addition to American fast food restaurants. Japan has developed to a fast food nation which exploits animals.