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Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010

LIFELINES

Barking mad over canine commotion


By ANGELA JEFFS and KEN JOSEPH JR.

FF in Tokyo has a barking dog next door that just won't stop!

"Our neighbors have a caged dog that lives outside. The barking continues for at least an hour, starting after 9 p.m. and often not stopping until well after midnight."

This happens almost every day, apparently. FF has sent the neighbors several letters asking them to quieten the dog down (at least at night), but nothing has changed.

We checked with this reader's local Toshima Ward city office. The section that handles this kind of problem — and it is very common — is the Seikatsu Eisei Ka, or Clean Living Division, within which is organized the Seikatsu Eisei Gakari (a group of staff members responsible for issues including, presumably, noise nuisance).

Initially they will meet with you, and once you have explained the situation (it is good if you have kept a simple diary recording dates and times) they will arrange a genchi homon, or site meeting, with the dog owner. Anyone who owns an animal has kainushi shiyo sekinin, or owner responsibility, according to Japan's Civil Code, or Minpo. This requires that an animal owner must provide basic care and follow relevant regulations.

At this meeting, ward officials will try to arrange a situation where the neighbors can meet your conditions; usually there will be some form of compromise.

In addition, the ward has a training program designed to teach dogs to behave properly. Officials can offer the owner or owners a place in this program to help their dog become more neighborhood-friendly.

If the visit of the city official fails to change the situation — and usually it does work! — you can take the dog owners to court based on the kainushi shiyo sekinin and get a civil court order that will require them to meet basic conditions of behavior.

The only thing to remember is that your neighbors will probably not be very happy that you "turned them in." Your canine problem may well be solved, but human relations could be strained!

For more information, press the "English" link at www.city.toshima.lg.jp/koho/018294.html .

Readers, please drop us a line if you have had a similar problem and tell us how it was dealt with (or not).

Angela Jeffs is a freelance writer and writing guide (www.thewriterwithin.net/). Ken Joseph directs the Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com and (0570) 000-911. Send queries, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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