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Protect Horses from Cruelty and Exploitation

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Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

The Ageuma Shinji Festival in Mie Prefecture, Japan, has turned into a horrifying display of animal cruelty disguised as entertainment. Take action!

Animals should never suffer for the sake of entertainment. Yet, the Ageuma Shinji Festival in Mie prefecture, Japan, has become a distressing example of animal cruelty disguised as amusement1. We cannot stand idly by while horses endure abuse and lose their lives in the name of tradition. It's time to take action and demand an end to this cruel festival.

During the festival, horses are forced to run up a steep hill and clear a towering two-meter high wall, all while enduring verbal abuse and physical punishment from spectators1. Videos and photographs reveal the shocking acts of violence inflicted upon these innocent creatures, with onlookers slapping them, resorting to ropes, sticks, and whips to coerce them forward2.

The tragic death of a horse named Merzouga, who had to be euthanized after breaking its leg, has sparked outrage and prompted the Life Investigation Agency NGO to file criminal complaints against over 130 people associated with the event1. These complaints highlight the blatant violation of animal welfare laws and shed light on the unsafe and distressing environment the horses are subjected to2.

What was once a solemn procession paying homage to the gods has transformed into a spectacle that endangers the lives of horses. The addition of the embankment obstacle has turned this festival into a form of entertainment, detracting from its original purpose3. The joyous cheers and shouts from spectators as horses crash into walls and tumble down the hill further illustrate the disregard for the animals' suffering3.

Complaints about animal cruelty at the Ageuma Shinji Festival have been raised for nearly 20 years. Despite claims of engagement with animal welfare organizations and local government, the inadequate response from shrine and city council officials calls for stronger action5. Legal measures are necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the horses involved in future editions of the festival4.

It's time for change. We cannot tolerate the exploitation and abuse endured by these helpless animals in the name of entertainment. We must raise our voices, rally behind legal actions, and demand accountability. By uniting in our cause, we can work towards the abolition of festivals that perpetuate animal cruelty.

Sign the petition to the Mie prefecture in Japan, urging them to put an end to the Ageuma Shinji Festival and protect the welfare of these horses. Together, we can create a world that values compassion, empathy, and the well-being of all living creatures.

More on this issue:

  1. Sakiko Shiraishi, Hideharu Tamura, Vibeke Venema, BBC (1 July 2023), "How a horse's death may lead to reform for ancient Japanese festival."
  2. Makoto Takada, The Asahi Shinbum (8 June 2023), "Shinto festival in Mie blasted over mistreatment of horses."
  3. Julian Ryall, South China Morning Post (4 July 2023), "In Japan, a horse’s death spurs calls for festival of ‘obvious’ animal abuse to be cancelled."
  4. Stuti Mishra, Independent (4 July, 2023), "Death of horse during centuries-old riding festival in Japan prompts outcry over animal abuse."
  5. Himari Semans, Unseen Japan (22 June 2023), "Activists: Shinto Shrine’s Horse Jumping Festival is Animal Abuse."
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The Petition:

To the Mie Prefectural Government, Japan,

We, the undersigned concerned individuals and animal rights advocates, hereby submit this petition urging the Mie Prefectural Government to take immediate action to implement crucial reforms in the 'Rising Horse' Ageuma Shinji Festival. It is imperative to protect the lives and well-being of animals, particularly horses, and prevent further instances of injury, suffering, and death caused by this festival.

The recent tragic incident involving the euthanization of a horse named Merzouga has brought to light the glaring issue of animal cruelty at the Ageuma Shinji Festival. This centuries-old event, once rooted in tradition, has devolved into a distressing spectacle that inflicts physical and psychological harm upon horses in the name of entertainment. We believe it is the responsibility of the Mie Prefectural Government to intervene and implement the necessary reforms to prevent further acts of cruelty.

  1. End the Use of Violent Measures: We urge the government to enact and enforce strict regulations that explicitly prohibit the use of violence, physical punishment, and abusive tactics against horses participating in the festival. The onlookers' practice of slapping horses, resorting to ropes, sticks, and whips, must be unequivocally condemned and deemed illegal. The safety and well-being of these sentient beings should be of paramount importance.
  2. Review and Modify Obstacles: The perilous embankment, with its two-meter height, poses a severe risk to the horses' physical integrity. We implore the Mie Prefectural Government to thoroughly assess the obstacles in the festival and take immediate steps to modify them, ensuring they adhere to strict safety standards. The goal should be to create an environment that minimizes the potential for harm to the horses and prevents accidents leading to serious injuries or fatalities.
  3. Strengthen Animal Welfare Laws: The current animal welfare laws must be strengthened to provide comprehensive protection to the animals involved in the Ageuma Shinji Festival. By introducing stricter regulations and penalties for those found guilty of animal cruelty, the government can send a clear message that the mistreatment of animals will not be tolerated. Additionally, the laws should mandate the presence of on-site veterinary professionals who can ensure the well-being of the horses throughout the festival.
  4. Educate and Raise Awareness: It is crucial to implement educational initiatives to raise awareness among festival organizers, participants, and the public about animal welfare and the ethical treatment of horses. By promoting compassion and empathy towards animals, we can foster a culture that values their well-being and recognizes the importance of their protection.
  5. Explore Alternative Celebratory Practices: We respectfully propose that the Mie Prefectural Government consider exploring alternative celebratory practices that align with the principles of compassion and respect for animals. Collaborate with experts in animal welfare and cultural preservation to develop innovative and animal-friendly traditions that can replace or supplement the Ageuma Shinji Festival. These alternatives should be centered around showcasing cultural heritage while promoting the well-being of all participants, human and animal alike.

By implementing these reforms, the Mie Prefectural Government has the opportunity to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to the ethical treatment of animals. Together, we can transform the Ageuma Shinji Festival into an event that upholds cultural significance without compromising the lives and dignity of innocent creatures.

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the Mie Prefectural Government takes immediate action to address the concerns raised in this petition. Let us work together to protect animals from needless suffering and ensure a more compassionate and humane future.


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