All About Japan

Neco Republic Making Island for Cats a Reality

| Island , Animals

Earlier this month, Japan’s Neco Republic made a bold announcement. The animal welfare organization, which runs a well-known chain of rescue cat cafés, said that the time had come for it to make good on the promise inherent in its name, and that it was launching a crowdfunding campaign to secure the means with which to buy an uninhabited island and declare itself an independent nation, in which it would create a society in which cats occupied a higher social tier than humans.

However, the announcement—made on April 1, 2017—was intended to be nothing more than a little April Fools’ Day fun. Nevertheless, it got a lot of people’s attention and Neco Republic head Asaka Nakama says the response was so positive that the organization is now indeed looking into the possibility of really buying an island and turning it into a cat paradise.

This wouldn’t be just another cat island where cats roam the streets. The goal is to create an entire community where residents can come into contact as part of their daily lives, and also where the animals will get the proper care and medical treatment they need to lead happy, healthy lives.

Neco Republic says it’s unsure how many elements of the initial, April 1-announced plan would be feasible in an actual planned community (the “independent nation” status is particularly iffy), but it initially envisioned the island having outdoor cat gardens where the animals could play, as well as shelters for strays, kittens, and even hospices offering treatment for cats with serious illnesses such as feline leukemia. Social services such as health insurance and a public pension system for cats were also part of the unofficial plan.

On April 1, Neco Republic said it would eventually be seeking ¥22 billion (approximately US$200 million), with reward tiers including naming rights for the island, log cabin residences, and permanent resident statuses. The actual project, however, has yet to begin soliciting monetary contributions, and is instead asking interested parties to simply follow the project by registering for updates through Japanese project promotion website Kibidango. Should the project reach 10,000 subscribers, Neco Republic will then kick off a crowdfunding project in earnest, so if you’d like to see that happen, you can find its Kibidango page here. The website is in Japanese, so unless you are proficient, you may want to get a friend who can translate it for you.

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