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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 15:49 GMT
Japan firm offers 'pet allowance'
Pet salon vehicle on display at 40th Tokyo Motor Show - 25/10/2007
Pet ownership is increasingly popular in Japan
A Japanese company is offering its employees a monthly "pet allowance" to help with the upkeep of their cats and dogs.

Kyoritsu Seiyaku, which makes animal medicines, said pets were a lifelong obligation for their owners.

Kyoritsu Seiyaku is offering its pet-owning employees about $9 (4.70) per month, and hopes the system will spread to other Japanese firms.

The company does not, however, offer paid leave when employees' pets die.

"For now, we have introduced only the allowances, but we want to consider the condolence holiday system in future," a spokeswoman for Kyoritsu Seiyaku told Reuters news agency.

Employees may be keen to take advantage of this in the future.

The Japan Pet Food Manufacturers' Association estimates that the country's cat and dog population of nearly 18 million animals is ageing rapidly, after a boom in ownership in the early 1990s.

Analysts say that many Japanese families are deciding to put off having children, and buy pets instead.

Many older people are living alone and keep pets as companions.

"Everyone has the right to own a pet, but they also have the obligation to raise the pet for its whole life," Kyoritsu Seiyaku said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

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