Strengthening the law regarding the regulation of pet shops and commercial breeders in Japan is a priority. This is Mr Satoshi Tanaka, Director of Policy and Coordination at the Nature Conservation Bureau in the Ministry of the Environment in Japan, inspecting conditions in a pet shop in Tokyo in 2011. This inspection was part of a series of training courses organised by JAWS in collaboration with the RSPCA, and funded in part by grants from JAWS UK. Mr Tanaka was particularly interested in how the RSPCA worked with Defra to develop the UK’s Animal Welfare Act 2006.


Our Story


Some may say there are animals in the UK that need our help, so why would we support a charity that helps animals in a foreign country?  


Here’s our story, to inspire you and answer that question… 


Appalling conditions in ’40s Tokyo 

Back in 1945, in Tokyo, British and other ex-patriates founded an animal welfare society. They were shocked at the way animals were treated in Japan and desperate to try and help them. Their main worry at the time was dogs that were awaiting and undergoing experiments in teaching hospitals – these unfortunate dogs were living in appalling conditions and were often used without anaesthesia in horrific, unregulated live experiments.


Volunteer work 

Led by headteacher Eleanor Close and her friend Lady Lorna Gascoigne, who was married to the head of the British Mission, the group of volunteers’ first action was to organise a rota to provide food and care for those suffering dogs. Elizabeth Dodge Arvin, a member of the group who worked for the U.S. military at the time, managed to collect surplus food from the army’s canteens. Eleanor recalls: “She came down most evenings with quite a staggering supply!”


Representations and appeals were also made to those responsible for the dogs, to encourage them to have a more humane and caring attitude to animals.


Charity set up 

On their return to the UK in 1956, Eleanor and Lorna organised and established a new charity, naming it the Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS). Its purpose was to raise money in the UK that could be used to fund improvements to the lives of these dogs, and the countless other animals in Japan who led a miserable existence due to the huge differences in cultural attitudes to animal welfare.


JAWS rapidly gained support in the UK and membership grew. Funds were raised through donations and legacies, which enabled the sister society based in Tokyo, now called JAWS Japan, to develop and continue its pioneering work for animals.


Measurable impact 

This vital financial support is still being given by JAWS UK to JAWS Japan, and other recognised Japan-based animal welfare societies and individual animal welfare workers. Its impact has been measurable to this day.


During the last six decades a great deal has been achieved to help the abused and abandoned pets, wildlife and captive animals of Japan. However, there is still much work to do; huge numbers of pets need rescuing, neutering, rehabilitating and rehoming and the need for robust, modern legislation to protect both domestic and wild animals is an urgent concern.


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This delightful young tomcat was rescued by a volunteer along with his mother. They were both rehomed by JAWS and now live happy, safe and healthy lives. Maco’s besotted new owner tells us: “He loved exploring his new home and is very mischievous!”





This bird was rescued, treated and released back into the wild in Awaji by Constable Sotani, who works tirelessly to help animals in his area, supported by JAWS UK.

Heron ready to take off

JAWS UK: dedicated to improving the lives of animals in Japan 

Registered charity number: 244534                                    

Address:  Lyell House, 51 Greencoat Place, London SW1P 1DS                        


Company registration number: 855624

Tel: 020 7630 5563