Japanese Macaques in Peril

The following is a message from Masako Miyaji of All Life In a Viable Environment (ALIVE).

Capture of wild monkeys and their use for animal experiments planned

Japan is the only habitat of Japanese Macaques, also known as Snow Monkeys, in the natural environment. However, about 10, 000 monkeys are killed every year under the name of vermin control and now those captured alive might be sent to laboratory facilities.

Japanese Macaques

Japanese Macaques (Photo by Yosemite, click to see original)

Damage to food crops caused by Japanese monkeys has been worsening in recent years in Japan and the government has been promoting vermin control program as the controlling measures.

But humans are to be blamed for the worsening damage to food crops because:

  • We have been cutting down natural forests that were their habitats and artificially planting trees that bear no fruits.
  • Farmers have been discarding unsold or unsalable food crops in the farmland and, although inadvertently, attracting monkeys.
  • Tourists have been feeding wild monkeys snacks and having them acquire a taste for human food.
  • Populations in farming villages have been declining and it is getting harder to chase off monkeys.
  • Blind and ignorant capturing policies which did not take the ecology and behaviour of monkeys into consideration have caused monkey populations to break up and disperse.

These are obviously the reasons for worsening damage of food crops caused by monkeys.

However, in the past years, experts on behaviour of Japanese monkeys and animal damage control have collaborated and developed various techniques of damage control, which have proven to be effective in many areas.

In spite of all those efforts and accomplishments, the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of the Environment is now planning to promote the capture of monkeys and reopen the way to send captured individuals to laboratory facilities.


The Ministry of the Environment is planning to include in the “Technical Manual of Conservation and Management of Japanese Monkeys”, which is a part of “Specified Wildlife Conservation and Management Plan”, the following:

  • Promoting aggressive capture
  • Allowing the use of captured animals for research
  • Deleting the “aim to conserve local populations” clause from the Manual.


Members of the Primate Society of Japan and wildlife protection organizations are criticizing this for the following reasons.

  • There is no regulation on the management of capture; once the capture starts, the entire local populations could be wiped out.
  • Conservation of local populations is completely ignored.
  • No results or accomplishments of research or technical developments for the prevention or control of animal damage have been taken into consideration.
  • The number of animals captured has been increasing while the damaged areas have been reducing in size. There is no justifiable reason for promoting capture.
  • Supplying animals to laboratory facilities will create new demand for laboratory animals and further promote unnecessary culling.
  • Since there is no law with any sort of binding force concerning animal experimentation in Japan, there is no way for us to know what will become of monkeys once they are sent to laboratory facilities for experiments.
  • The protection of wild primates is actively pursued internationally and it is considered ethically unacceptable to use them for experiments.
  • The Ministry of Environment fails to take the responsibility as Japan’s wildlife conservation agency to ensure the protection of welfare of Japanese Macaques.


Please write a letter to the Minister of the Environment asking him to reconsider the plan to promote the capture of monkeys and work the alternative solutions with experts.

Minister of the Environment
Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan
Godochosha No. 5, 1-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8975, Japan.
Tel: +81-3-3581-3351
Fax: +81-3-3581-3003

You can also send a mail from:
(Please select “Nature & Parks” as the category)

Thank you in advance for your help.

Masako Miyaji
All Life In a Viable Environment (ALIVE)
5-18-10-102, Honkomagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0021 Japan
Tel.+81-3-5978-6272 Fax..+81-3-5978-6273



  1. thank you Masako and Shaney!

    I sent an e mail it was very easy to do! Please take a couple of minutes and send the MoEnv a loud and clear message that people are watching.

  2. Wanda Perry

    I also sent an email. I am disappointed in the way our countires have handled problems with animals. We need to talk to our leaders and make new laws, it can happen if we all stand together.

  3. Janie Morton

    thank you for writing such a well reseached and written article, i have sent an email to the moe and i sincerely hope that it will be listened to and this unethical and inhumane process will be abolished!

    i am currently trying to seek help for a pair of japanese monkeys contained in a small and injustable cage at Ulsan Grand park in Korea. They are mad from their sorry confinement and I aim to make thepeople of Ulsan aware of their plight and the need to house them in a larger more suitable structure.

    I hope we will succed in our mission and more people take on the vital need to help our worlds animals.

  4. Janie are you familiar with the Korean animal protection group KAPES? I met two of their reps at ARK and they were so helpful and organized. I have two e mail addresses but I cannot read the Hangul on the business card.

    Just got back from vacation maybe Shaney can forward the information to you.

    Jeff Bryant
    Animal Refuge Kansai

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