Several Eastern cultures do not view the cat as a particularly valuable animal, choosing to eat them as a regular part of their diet. But there is a difference between eating an animal out of necessity and torturing one out of sadistic pleasure. One case in Japan had Tokyo police arresting a man for not only torturing cats, but making videos of the acts and then posting them on an anonymous website. Makoto Oya, a man from Saitama City, was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals under Japanese law. Police found the videos after an anonymous person reported the existence of the videos, and they were traced back to Oya. There were a total of 13 different cats that were tortured, 9 who ended up dying, the rest suffering significant injury.
(Warning: Graphic content follows)
Oya first said he didn’t know that “exterminating” (Oya’s words) cats were against the law. According to police reports, he had poured scalding water on them and also used a blowtorch as a way to finish the job. Oya is a tax consultant in Japan, so he had been previously respected within his culture as an honorable man. No more.
Oya made several statements to the police about his hatred of the animals, saying their normal bodily functions smell bad and their naturally sharp nails used for defense and survival as “designed to injure.” This obviously is not the mind of a normal person, but there are many questions that need to be answered to get a full view of the story and the problem.
- It is not known how long Oya had been torturing cats. Only 13 are known to be injured, but Oya is 52 years old. The total count is not likely to ever be known.
- How many more people have the same view of cats as Oya? While it has resulted in him being ostracized in Japan, it clearly was a secretive practice. This shows it is not a commonly accepted cultural norm of the Japanese people.
- What are the legal consequences for Oya? Animal rights activists from around the world have focused on this case as a way to get Japanese laws changed in regard to the punishment of people accused of animal cruelty. He ended up with a 22 month prison sentence – suspended by the decree of a judge. In most cases animal cruelty in Japan has offenders only having to pay a fine for their acts.
- How will this kind of content be regulated on the Internet? It is commonly known that there are criminal acts against children readily available, especially on anonymous web sites and the international community has largely joined together to track down the criminals and shut down the web sites that are making the content available. Depending on the results of the investigation, the problem may be far more prevalent than most people are aware of.
Though nearly a year has passed since the arrest and prosecution of Oya, there have been no similar crimes that have been reported. It is clear Oya has a mental health issue, but his ability to avoid being discovered is troubling. The Japanese culture is a very close knit and traditional culture, so it was expected that a member of the public would report the videos to police once discovering them.
It seems that the first line of defense against people who torture animals is the public. The “see something, say something” mantra that exists in America will need to take hold in other parts of the world if the extent of the problem is to be revealed. In the absence of public intervention, it is only guesswork as to how many other Oyas are out there.
The problem goes beyond just corralling in the mentally disturbed who are engaging in the torture and cruelty. It is likely that virtually any unspeakable act can be found on the Internet, particularly the Dark Web, and in order to ferret out the deranged it may require the rest of us to give up some of our privacy rights. This is an issue that has been bandied around for more than a decade, but the more that is discovered, the more it seems to be an inevitability.
Makoto Oya is just one person who has been caught and convicted of this type of despicable behavior. Changes in the law, specifically Japanese law, would go a long way to inhibit the spread of such cruelty. But until the depth of the problem is known, this story may have a short news cycle in the international world of stories that should sicken us.