Japanese Pet Cremators Burned Their Garbage With Pets for 10 Years

The practice became so normal that employees were burning their garbage with the pet corpses every day.
pets, animal, crematory, crematorium, burn, japan, abuse, garbage, trash
The cremators were burning their lunch boxes and chopsticks, among other garbage, with pet corpses. Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Instead of throwing out their trash, workers at a pet crematorium in Japan have been burning their garbage with animals’ corpses, shocking many in a country where funerals are a solemn occasion treated with the utmost respect.

For about 10 years, pets brought to the Owari Hokubu Seien crematory—located in central Japan—have been incinerated with trash including chopsticks, leftover lunch, and plastic water bottles, according to Aihoku Regional Crematorium Association, which oversees the crematory.


Contractors hired by the crematorium have been doing this so frequently that it became a daily habit, a spokesperson for the association told VICE World News. 

“It’s unthinkable that they thought this was okay,” said Shinji Ito, chief secretary of the association.

The association said it only learned of the practice on Monday, following an allegation on social media by a funeral procession employee. The cremators were employed by Gorin, a contracting company, and could be fired for their action, Ito said.

“I’ve heard that the new hires learned this practice from watching employees who’d worked there longer, and just assumed that’s how they did things around here,” he said. That’s how normalized it became, he added. 

Yukiko Furuhashi, the head of a cat protection group in the area, told VICE World News she was disgusted by the revelation.  

“I’m shocked at the lack of awareness that allows people to treat beings, whether they’re dead or alive, in this way,” she said. 

As someone who’s been rescuing cats for over 30 years, she said she fears animals are still viewed as things rather than living creatures.

According to the Animal Protection Index, Japan is rated as a “poor performer” among 50 countries ranked based on their laws and policy commitments to protecting animals.

Though it’s illegal to kill, injure, or inflict cruelty onto animals without due cause, the laws don’t protect wild animals. Activists like Furuhashi also claim that current legislation is too vague and allows animal abuse to go unchecked.

The crematory is now considering placing cameras inside the facility to watch employees. “But I want to believe this would never happen again—surely, they knew what they were doing was wrong,” Ito said.

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