Animal Conservation

Microchipped dogs, cats compulsory in Japan from June

Pet sellers in Japan are now required to implant microchips in dogs and cats, as a revised animal welfare and management law came into force on June 1.

The goal is to prevent owners from abandoning their pets and to help identify owners in the event of a disaster.

A microchip to be implanted under the skin of dogs and cats, with a one yen coin next to it for scale (file photo Asahi Shimbun)

The cylindrical chip is approximately 10 millimeters long and 2 mm in diameter. It is usually implanted near the neck of dogs and cats using a syringe-like device.

The chip contains a 15-digit identifier that can be scanned using special devices and compared to a database that the Ministry of the Environment will maintain to identify the owner’s information.

Veterinarians or veterinary nurses implant the microchips. The cost is 3,000 yen ($23.18) to 10,000 yen.

The revised law requires breeders, pet stores and other vendors to implant the chips in puppies and kittens for sale, as well as adult dogs and cats intended for breeding, to improve the breeding environment.

Sanctions may be imposed for violations, such as administrative directives and administrative penalties.

The law also requires that owners’ data, such as their name, address and telephone number, as well as their pet’s data, such as breed and birthday, be registered in the government database. When people buy a puppy or kitten from a pet store, they must register their owner information within 30 days.

Online registration costs 300 yen.

There will, however, be no punishment for anyone in the public who has purchased a pet but has not registered it.

Some people worry about health risks such as the pet losing the chip or having it move around in the pet’s body, as vendors have to implant microchips into hundreds of thousands of puppies and kittens when they are about 8 weeks old.

Some people also say the system is inconvenient if people don’t register their owner information when purchasing the pet.

The Animal Welfare and Management Act was revised in 2019, which included transitional measures, meaning that enforcement has been postponed.