A heartwarming editorial from The Sunday Times last week. I dug this up for a friend who’ll be up all night.
“A respect for all life”
Editorial, The Sunday Times, 27 Mar 2011.
The Japanese have always had a special relationship with their animals. There is that famous story of Hachiko, the faithful Akita Inu dog that waited every day for its deceased master at Tokyo’s Shibuya station for nine years after he died. Then there is the Maneki Neko, or the ‘waving cat’ figurine displayed in many stores, the symbol of the special reverence the Japanese have for cats, which they consider to be wise and lucky spirits. So it is no surprise that in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami, and perhaps more so than in other similar tragedies, there has been a fair amount of attention paid to animals and their welfare.
Last week, an Akita Inu or Japanese breed of large dog, named Shane, reportedly swam through chest-high water for six hours before managing to find its owner in an evacuation centre. There have been reports of people who have refused to be moved from homes without their pets, and pictures of families at evacuation centres hugging and feeding their pets, even checking them for possible radiation exposure. A YouTube video of a dog fiercely protecting its injured friend garnered more than seven million views in less than a week. And the concern among netizens over the fate of Tashirojima, a small island off Sendai with more cats than humans, again reflects the love for animals. Underpinning all this is the work of the Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support, which has raised more than US$250,000 (S$316,000), according to its website, to provide shelter spaces, coordinate animal rescues and reunite pets with their owners.
While sceptics may question the importance paid to animals in the face of human destruction, the Japanese people’s concern for animals, even now, is heartening. It indicates loyalty and a respect for the dignity and life of all living things, including smaller and weaker creatures. That is a quality that should not be underrated, especially now.