Stop Using Horses--Abuse against horses at shrine's festival in 2018
The most noticeable incident was where horses were beaten with whips numerous times during the break, and cheers from the audience broke out every time horses kicked their back legs.
The video showing the incident was picked up, and covered by lots of media outlets.
However, abuse cases did not end there.
We failed charges against three malicious cases for abuse, which were captured on videos.
These charges have been accepted.
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Process for these charges"Isn't this festival considered as abuse?" reported to the Animal Rights Center in 2015.
Since then, we've been demanding Fujisaki Hachimangu and concerned groups to improve their treatment of horses every year.
Kumamoto city and police gave instructions on this issue as well.
In addition, we have been made aware that there is a rescue group called "Open Sesame Minami Aso retired horse ranch" who has been active to improve their local festivals.
There are groups participating in the festival who calmly lead horses.
The existence of such groups, the activities done by local rescue groups, and the instructions given by the police and city assured us to just keep quietly monitoring the situation, and yet, abuse against horses did not get better.
In 2017, we received information that horses were beaten with coolers.
In the following year, there was a video that shows people amused by watching horses beaten during the break on Instagram.
Additionally, other groups also presented problematic behaviors, which made it clear there have not been any improvements made whatsoever.
So we needed to take action to file charges against some cases.
Requests for Improvements Made So FarAbuse Against Horses in 2015 at Fujisaki Hachimangu Reitai sai
Abuse Against Horses in 2016 at Fujisaki Hachimangu Reitai sai
Abuse Against Horses in 2017 at Fujisaki Hachimangu Reitai sai
3 Cases We Filed Charges Against
1. Donation group: Yokoyama Kai7 members of Yokoyama kai surrounded the horse to whip his bottoms and back legs at Kumamoto city Nishiyama junior high school during the break at the festival march. Cheers from audience broke out when the horse was back-kicking to avoid the whip. The front members chased the horse when he was trying to escape by intimidating him as though he would be beaten or punched.
2. Donation group: Seirenbado KaiAt the end of the march on the road to Fujisaki Hachimangu, a member grabbed the horse's genitals four times. Another member intimidated the horse as though he would beat him by taking advantage of horse’s wide field of views. Some members repeatedly feign beating postures and hid in the horse’s blind spot more than 4 times to keep inflicting pain and fear to the horse. This series of abuse lasted about 30 seconds to instigate the horse to back-kick.
3. Donation group: Namiashi KaiAt the end of the march on the road to Fujisaki Hachimangu, one of the members whipped the horse's back legs to make him back-kick. However, the horse only lifted his back legs a bit so another member beat the bottom of horse with towels.
Youtube video uploaded by KUMATAKA on 2018/09/17
There were many instances considered to be animal abuse. We picked up these three since there was evidence such as videos. We also considered them especially malicious so that we should file charges against animal abuse or mishandling according to article 44 clause 2 of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals.
The abuse was done in order to show horses back-kicking to present "vicious horses" to the audience.
The police have been giving instructions to say "it is inappropriate to make horses back-kick in any place."
We submitted the charge to Kumamoto Prefecture Minami police office on October 30th for case 1, and to the Kumomato central police office for case 2 and 3, which were received on October 24th.
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Don’t use horses for festivals
Can we hope for improvements?Open Sesame has been demanding improvements, and has yet again watched how the horses were treated at this festival. They responded to an inquiry from the Animal Rights Center as below:
We, as a local animal protection group who participated in the representative meetings with donation groups to request improvements of abusive cases for years, feel strongly grieved and shocked about the abuse that was extremely controversial at the event.
The current situation is as though we don't have any rules.
We hope that Fujisaki Hachimangu will stand up to protect innocent participants and the tradition by courageously setting up rules and penalties regarding animal abuse.
In response to reports by the media, the mayor of Kumamoto city also tweeted as follows:
藤崎八旛宮秋季例大祭において一部で馬の虐待行為が行われていると報道されましたが、いかなる場合でもそうした行為があってはなりません。今後神社等の主催者側で検証されると思いますが、参加者はルールやマナーを守り伝統ある祭りが健全なものとなることを強く願っています。— 熊本市長 大西一史 (@K_Onishi) 2018年9月25日
According to the press, Kumamoto city also gave an order to improve the situation under the mayor's name.
[Some reported cases of abuse against horses in the Fujisaki Hachimangu Shuki Reitaisai festival. There should not be such abuse in any case whatsoever. I believe there will be an investigation by the shrines and other hosts of the festival. I strongly hope participants will obey rules and use good manners to keep our tradition healthy.]
However, this is rather a deep-rooted problem.The service association, who themselves should be the ones to give warnings, has a different perspective.
For instance, one report showed the association's statement as follows:
The service association states whipping is part of training, not abuse. -- ANN News KAB
Observing from outside, unfortunately the effort to improve the situation has not been made.
Abuse will continue unless they stop wanting to present "vicious horses” to serve the audience.
Amateurs who usually don't have experience with horses train the animals to act viciously to prepare for the festival. During the training, it is highly likely there are a lot more abusive cases.
"Hami (Bit)" is usually used to make horses listen by inflicting pain in horses' mouths. They abusively use "Hami" to make horses walk sideways or zigzag, which is not what horses typically do, and consequently hurt horses' mouths. Some horses may cut their tongues or the inside of their mouths.
It was discovered some use electric shocks to instigate back-kicking, and individuals witnessed some groups grabbing horses' genitals.
It is also abusive to make heavily decorated horses walk on asphalt in the hot late September.
We've been requesting additional places to give water to horses during the festival. And yet, there have not been clear measurements in place since it is up to the service association.
As there are so many problems, the Animal Rights Center has been demanding to stop using horses to the service association.
We demanded they answer our requests to place some measurements and discontinuation of the usage of horses when improvements were not made to the chief priest, the delegate, and Fujisaki Hachimangu Shureitaisai festival mikoshi chairperson on September 28th 2018, and yet we have not received any reply.
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860-0841 Igawabuchimachi 3-1, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto City
Association of Shinto Shrines (religious administrative organization that oversees about Shinto shrines in Japan.)
〒151-0053 Yoyogi 1-1-2 Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
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