Why did Japan Succeed in Eradicating Rabies?:


In Japan, rabies was eliminated domestically in a short period of only seven years after the enactment of the Rabies Prevention Law (1950), and the country has succeeded in maintaining its cleanliness ever since. This paper will discuss how the Rabies Prevention Law was effective and contributed to the elimination of rabies from three perspectives.

Comparison of past laws/regulations with Rabies Prevention Law

The following table compares the provisions of the five laws and regulations enacted since the Meiji era (1868-1912).

Tokyo Prefectural Domestic Dog RulesRegulations for the Control of Domestic DogsAnimal Quarantine and Prevention ActAct on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases in LivestockRabies Prevention Law
period of enforcement1873~1881~1896~19221922~19501950~
Bludgeoning rabid dogs
(in the presence of the owner and a police officer)

(The owner/manager must receive instructions)
Reporting rabid dogs×
Internment of stray dogs×〇(obligation)×〇(possible)〇(obligation)
Quarantine on imports××
Restricting access and traffic××
Unauthorized entry during pursuit××××

From these comparisons, the following provisions of the Rabies Prevention Law deserve special mention.

The law mandates the detention of unregistered dogs, dogs that have not been vaccinated, and dogs that do not have a vaccination certificate.

Allows entry without permission from the dog owner or landowner when tracking a dog suspected of having rabies.

This has increased the enforcement of rabies quarantine and led to an increase in the rate of wild dog extermination.

Transition of vaccination staff

1922-1948 (former Livestock Infectious Disease Prevention Law)
Injections were administered by police officials or livestock quarantine commissioners (*).

)1948-1950 (Revision of the former Livestock Infectious Disease Prevention Law with the enforcement of the Police Law)
Vaccinations were given only by the Livestock Quarantine Commissioner.

(*)A commissioner responsible for prefectural duties such as providing guidance to livestock owners at livestock health centers, and killing and burying affected livestock when urgently needed in the event of an outbreak of livestock infectious diseases.

Post WWⅡ
The Ministry of the Interior created a “Public Health Division” in each prefecture, within which a section in charge of animal health was assigned. However, the number of people in charge of livestock quarantine was small. In light of this, GHQ issued an order to have practicing veterinarians perform preventive injections under the supervision of prefectural veterinarians.

After the Rabies Prevention Law (1950)

In principle, rabies shots were administered by a veterinarian in clinic.

Thus, the number of vaccinations has increased as practicing veterinarians have taken the lead in administering the shots, and preventers have been able to concentrate on public health measures.

Centralization of quarantine responsibilities (one-health approach)

 Animal rabies control was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.


After a major outbreak centered in Osaka, the Ministry of Home Affairs called a meeting of the Prevention Council, but the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry refused, and discussions did not take place for seven years.

After a clash, administrative control was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to the Ministry of Home Affairs (*1) through the Administrative Investigation Committee (*2).

※1…Current Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare
※2…Organization to deliberate on basic matters related to administrative reform

With the request of GHQ, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry cooperated to draft the Rabies Prevention Law. 

In the process of enactment of the Rabies Prevention Law, the control of dogs and the prevention of human rabies were integrated into one law.


Wild dog extermination has been obligatory under every law/regulation since the Meiji era, and the Rabies Prevention Law increased the number of dogs exterminated, contributing to the control of rabies. However, it should not be forgotten that the people of the time felt ashamed of the fact that dogs were beaten to death.

The following photos show the cemetery that was erected by female students of a sewing school to mourn the victims of rabid dogs and wild dogs that were beaten to death.