Today Animal Welfare Japan supports the work of an ever-increasing number of organisations in Japan caring for animals.
Since its formation in 1956, the charity’s funding has helped thousands of animals in Japan, raised public awareness, and funded pioneering animal welfare activities there.
The charity’s founders, Lorna Gascoigne (seen here with two of her dogs) and Eleanor Close (below), set about raising money to improve animal welfare in Japan when they saw emaciated and dying dogs and horses in Tokyo after World War II.
The friends were on a trip to visit their husbands. Lorna’s husband was head of the postwar British mission in Japan and Eleanor’s partner was the first British council representative in Tokyo.
The two British women were moved by the poor conditions they saw horses being kept in – often tethered without enough food, water or shelter – and they were shocked when they saw the state of the dogs being used for medical research at the University of Tokyo Hospital.
Lorna and Eleanor, along with other local volunteers, set out to provide water, food and scarce veterinary drugs to help relieve the animals they saw suffering.
When they returned to London, they established their charity hoping to help animals in Japan. Originally called the Japan Animal Welfare Society it’s named was changed to AWJ in 2023.