「Accidentally in Love」
When I was in the first grade of elementary school, I had my first love. We hung out almost every day. I was crazy about him. I was accidentally in love with this boy. Still I sometimes wonder, what if this "boy" had been a "girl."
About 8% of the people from Japan belong to the "LGBTQ plus" community. LGBTQ plus stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, pansexual, asexual and omnisexual. Pansexual, asexual and omnisexual are used when one's identity might shift over time. You see, each of them has a different sexual orientation. They are each different, so we can't just judge them by their sexualities. I think it's difficult to understand how they feel or how they think. However, in some way we need to be aware of them. We should not put a label on them easily, nor think that we understand them completely.
My friend who lives in the U.S. recently came out as gay. His parents were shocked when he came out, but they say that they are still proud of him. Most of his friends felt the same way too. Recently, he had a chance to visit Japan. He told me that he made a lot of friends in Japan, but he lost half of them when he told them that he was gay. I reached out to a man who had stopped talking to him. He said that being gay is unusual and strange. He put a label on him and thinks that he knows everything about him. Of course, I was surprised when I heard him coming out, but that didn't end our friendship. I think that's because I had known him before he came out. I had a chance to get to know how charming he is as a person. I wish the man had tried to get to know him more.
As a matter of fact, people in the LGBTQ plus community struggle with these kinds of problems especially in Japan. Some lost their lives because they couldn't find a way to cope with them. LGBTQ plus is not a common topic that is talked about in this country. So, it makes us more ignorant. Most of us are not aware of these problems. Besides, there are few activists in Japan. You may think, "How are we supposed to know all of this?" "How can we know their feelings or thoughts?" "How can we understand them?" The answer is very simple. We need to try. Every one of us. People who belong to the LGBTQ plus community and those who don't. We just have to open up to each other.
One easy way to get to know about the LGBTQ plus community is to join events. In other countries, such as the U.S. or the U.K. there are events called "Pride Parades." In a pride parade, people accept and celebrate their differences. Some of you might know, there was an event called the "Tokyo Rainbow Parade" on March 7th, 2018. About 14 thousand people joined. However, there are few events held in small cities, such as Hamamatsu, where I live. We need more places and opportunities to speak up, to share our thoughts. It is one of my dreams to be able to help others to express their sexualities freely. I hope I can provide a place where people can feel comfortable with their own identities.
People in the LGBTQ plus community are just like us. The only difference we have is our first love. You see, we don't get to choose our first love. We all fall in love. We are all accidentally in love with someone.
「A Look Behind Your Favorite Local Pet Store」
Japan is the queen of booms.
From fashion trends, to games, to slang--things spread like wildfire here more than anywhere else. Now not that there's anything necessarily wrong with having the majority of the population jump mindlessly from bandwagon to bandwagon. It's just that sometimes, believe it or not, we don't really think our hobbies through.
So welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to an honest look behind your local pet store.
The Dachshund, Chihuahua and Toy poodle are the three most popular dog breeds in Japan. Of course by Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Toy poodles, I am referring to the gentle, pretty, big eyed angels you see at the store, not what other genetically defective creatures arrive in that same litter. No, no -- those are cast aside, euthanized, disposed of in masses.
It's easy, isn't it? Convenient, even, to buy a pet. You walk into a pet store with a crate and walk right back out with a puppy. Convenient! The problem here is that it shouldn't be. Buying an animal, treating it like the living thing that it is, shouldn't just be convenient. It's simply made to look like it is. And the reason? Industry. Money.
The Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Toy Poodles you fawn over through the glass at the pet store, they come from somewhere: a mom and a dad. Now mom and dad find their home in a cramped little cage, alongside many more, in a puppy making factory.
These are what we call puppy mills.
Let's break down the process.
Say a company uses a Chihuahua in their TV campaign, or a celebrity posts a picture of their new Poodle. The public goes wild. Button nose, beady eyes, little paws-- just perfect. And so the boom begins. The demand for the breed rises. The pet industry jumps on the trend, replicating exactly what the people want.
Now, creating more of the same product requires more of the same material, and in the pet industry this means inbreeding, where they repeatedly breed dogs carrying the 'desired' gene with their own offspring to enhance the 'desired' trait. When done with caution, inbreeding can be perfectly safe. High demands, however, come with the temptation to abuse. So people simply disregard caution in pursuit of quick, maximized profit. This is where 'trusted breeder' becomes 'puppy mill'.
And in said puppy mills is where the sick, disabled brothers and sisters of your new pet store pup are. The ones born with no nose, no eyes, a couple missing paws. Born with severe brain disorders, who run in circles all day. Born with the ultimate fate of cesarean section should they ever conceive puppies of their own, because their bodies are so unnaturally disproportionate, their own babies won't even fit through their birth canals. Some even make it a few years into a happy adoption before their genetic disorders act up and out of the blue, they collapse into a seizure on the living room floor. And all because we think curly tails and little legs are cute.
It was around the Victorian era when owning certain breeds of dogs became an item of fashion. For a rich, fashionable woman in Victorian England, the companion pooch was an absolute necessity. It's where the term 'lapdog' came from. And from generation to generation, these trends grew.
Today, this industry is a whole world. And in this world, dogs are accessories. They're toys. Products. They are money and business and imports and exports. They are objects.
But on the 13th of October 2017, California became the first American state to ban sales from puppy mills. In December of the same year, Australia limited the number of dogs breeders are allowed to keep. And this autumn, England proposed a ban on unethical third-party puppy and kitten sales. And Japan, well... we have a grand total of 4 officials monitoring all of 25,000 pet shops, breeders and kennels across the nation.
But before we all point accusatory fingers and gasp in horror, let's look at the logistics of this monstrosity. In 2015, Japan's pet market value was estimated at 1.4 trillion yen. The ultimate solution here is of course, to educate the breeders and pass legislation against the unethical breeding of animals. But the problem here only really festers under those that enable it--that's us. If consumers didn't buy these dogs, breeders wouldn't breed them. They'd find another profession, and hopefully one that doesn't involve the pain and suffering of a living being.
But wait, where do we get our dogs then, you ask? Why, kennels and shelters, of course. Where dogs yet again find their homes in cramped little cages. Only this time, we have the opportunity to free them.
Ladies and gentlemen, there's nothing necessarily wrong with bandwagons. But there are many things wrong with this one. Let the pet store boom be one bandwagon we abandon, and one we never hop back onto.
「Feminism in Japan」
「How Synthetic Are We?」
「Making Things Normal」