Sales of puppies and kittens would be prohibited until they are at least 56 days old under a planned revision of the Animal Protection Law expected to passed by the Diet this session.

Working-level talks within the ruling Democratic Party of Japan resulted in an agreement Wednesday to support the change under the rationale that the young animals will have more time with their mothers before being shipped out for sale.

“Even though Japan is a developed country, it has been slow in setting rules related to animal protection,” said Makomi Tsuruta, a representative of Animal Network Japan, which comprises 157 animal-rights groups.

Animal-rights activists say newborn puppies and kittens that are separated from their mothers tend to develop behavioral issues. This often leads to owners neglecting the animals or even dumping them.

Tsuruta pointed out that some countries, including Italy, have a 60-day no-sale rule.

“The revision is still not enough,” she said.

Debate over the revision centered around having animal-rights activists, pet shop owners and experts agree on how many days the puppies and kittens should spend time with their mothers before being separated.

While the current law has no stipulations on this matter, pet shops have recently tended to put newborn puppies and kittens up for sale as soon as possible with the aim at reducing breeding expenses.

The industry wanted a 45-day rule, while owners suggested 49 days. Animal-rights activists urged a 56-day ban.

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