Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa needs your help

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Coby Bolger Wilson ha iniciado esta petición dirigida a Animal Rights y

Have you thought about where the changes in animal welfare over the last 40 years have come from?

“Promoting animal welfare might be the first step to establish Environmental ethics for peaceful coexistence with living organisms.” Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa 2020

There are many organizations that have brought animal welfare to the forefront over the last 40 years, but I believe that the cognition studies carried out with primates by Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa and his team at the PRI Research Center of Kyoto University have been one of the keys to changing our understanding about how we should treat animals. Professor Matsuzawa has changed scientific ideas and mentored thousands of young researchers in the area of animal and environmental ethics, but possibly more importantly, he has worked to change ideas on animal welfare and human relationships with other species on this planet, making his work accessible to everyone.

Please see Professor Matsuzawa’s Ted Talk from https://youtu.be/fzUyX5kezb0   

Professor Matsuzawa was dismissed in November from his position over the “mismanagement of funds and inappropriate handling of contract procedures” related to building new primate cages for the PRI Research Center (image provided) at Kyoto University. These new revolutionary enclosures allow the monkeys to live in family units with free access to different areas, both vertical and horizonal spaces, indoors and outdoors, in a clearly more humane environment, and participating in cognitive and behavioral research studies (or not) at will.

The official auditors cited “mismanagement of funds and inappropriate handling of contract procedures” related to changes of the design and because few competent suppliers were able to provide initial budget quotes during the initial call for bids. This is the first time that large technical enclosures such as these have ever been built anywhere in the world. Professor Matsuzawa has defended his position saying that, the task of building this type of enclosure, of this size and keeping in mind every detail, is extremely complex. Official government funding requires an exact detailed proposal, so auditors felt that the initial proposal should have been written with more exact wording and not changed in any way during the building phase. The auditors also felt that more bids for construction from more companies should have been received. There are few companies in the world that have the technical knowledge necessary to build this type of enclosure, so few companies participated in the initial bidding process.

VERY IMPORTANT - All reports and the 2 official audit investigations state that no person related to the project spent the funds on any personal use. All the funds were used to pay for the new enclosures which are now considered the most advanced on the planet and an example for everyone as the best way possible to keep captive primates. All the monkeys at the center were rescued from experimentation or born in captivity.

The allegation of violating the contracting rules and mismanaged funds from the Japanese government has serious consequences for Kyoto University, and the money must be paid back to the government. This is considered a serious abuse of taxpayer trust and will have grave long-term consequences for many areas of research in Kyoto University. The Kyoto University Council for Education and Research voted unanimously to dismiss Professor Matsuzawa and one other researcher as well as discipline other members of his team to respond to the seriousness of the accusations.

While it is important to manage funds correctly, and I completely understand and sympathize with the University of Kyoto’s stance, putting an end to Professor Matsuzawa’s lifetime commitment to research on animal welfare and cognition and not recognizing that the cages are built and functioning for the good of the primates is unusually harsh. This type of drastic decision will only slow or stop efforts in other parts of the world to improve animal welfare.

Professor Matsuzawa told me recently, “Promoting animal welfare might be the first step to establish Environmental ethics for peaceful coexistence with living organisms.” I feel that we, the public, need to take this idea close to our hearts and act.

Scientists and researchers throughout the world are writing to the University of Kyoto and the Government of Japan asking for a re-evaluation of their decision and possibly allow Professor Matsuzawa to remain in an Honorary Professorship to continue his work in the future.  

Friends, can we lend our voices to theirs and from a public grass roots level, and communicate that we too prioritize animal rights and wellbeing for captive animals? If we have to have captive animals, I want them to have these types of enclosures if at all possible, I hope that you do too.

I ask for you signature on this petition or, if you prefer, please write to the following people:

Dr. Nagahiro Minato

President, Kyoto University

Yoshida-Honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto city

Postal code 606-8501, JAPAN

and/or

Mr. Koichi HAGIUDA

Minister, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology

3-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Postal code 100-8959, Japan

If you would like to know more about the case, here are some articles that have been published recently:

 

 

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