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Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University
Inuyama, Aichi 484-8506, JAPAN
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15th Oct, 2009

Monkey Memorial Service was held in Primate Research Institute (PRI).

The 24th Annual Monkey Memorial Service took place in PRI on Thursday, Oct. 15th. This ceremony is meant for primates housed at PRI and who died a natural death or whose lived were laid down for research purposes during the past year. People have been gathering in front of "Saruzuka" (a Stone Monument erected at PRI in memory of sacrificed primates) every year in this season since 1974.

After introductory greetings by Pr. Matsuzawa, Director of PRI, Pr. Hirai, Director of the Center for Human Evolution Modeling Research (CHEMR), reported the number of birth and death among PRI primates during the past year.

Every year, our Institute representative gives an "Aozora speech" (outside speech), which is an announcement about personal experience and opinion on the use of primates in research. This year, Pr. Matsubayashi from CHEMR filled this role and spoke about the progress in the Stone Monument erection and the passion for Biological Research.

After Pr. Matsubayashi's speech, the audience offered some flowers to the spirits of the deceased primates and wished for the peace of their spirits.

Pr. Matsuzawa, Director of PRI

Pr. Hirai, Director of CHEMR


Pr. Matsubayashi from CHEMR

Flowers for the deceased primates' spirits

The audience

15th Oct, 2009
Pr. Kiyoaki Matsubayashi

The Origin of the Monkey Memorial Service (Aozora Speech Relay)

This Monkey Memorial service is the last one in my career . This is why I initially proposed to give this year's speech relay. I thought I should tell the story of the Stone Monument erection and the origin of the Monkey Memorial Service. This speech also aims to share the soul of the original staff of the Primate Research Institute (PRI).

The person who suggested building a stone monument was Mr. Mitsuo Iwamoto, Director of the Laboratory Primate Center in 1972. Some committee members said that "The persons in charge should take on this task." However, other people, including myself, insisted that "All the persons involved in primate research should be equal on this matter. It is necessary to take this opportunity to consider the relationships between humans and other living beings, and thank them". After its approval, the Stone Monument project was proposed to PRI members and they started raising money. However, at that time, young research assistants' income was only 20,000 ~ 30,000 yen per month, and each of them was only able to offer a few thousand yen. Eventually, after several months, 120,000 yen were collected. Mr. Takayoshi Syotake, Instructor in the "Department of Variation Research*" (*: which aimed to develop genomic variation research) at that time, asked his related stone dealer to build the monument, and this was eventually done. Because many porters were required for this task, Mr. Syotake and I assisted in carrying and erecting the Stone Monument at the place where it is still present, and where an unveiling ceremony took place in April 1973.
At the beginning, the annual Monkey Memorial Service promoted to invite the chief Buddhist priest. However, since national universities' events became sensitive matters, we changed the ceremony to "Kenka style" (offering flowers to the spirits of the deceased primates). At that time, I was promoted Director of the Laboratory Primate Center and was closely involved in the Memorial Service. The Aozora Speech Relay (a short announcement by one person about personal experience and opinion on the use of primates in research) was initiated, and since then, is given every year. The first speaker was Dr. Toshio Asano (currently working in Aichi University), who then became the chairperson of the Animal Care Committee (ACC). After the Memorial Service, the audience members have participated in informal conversations in the Conference hall for several years. However, this "Humanity Memorial Service" was stopped lately, since badly behaved people joined during the conversations.

It is essential for Biology researchers not only to maintain experimental research, but also to reconsider the relationship with their study subjects sometimes, regardless of the research technique used. By doing so, not only they will protect themselves from the "arrogance of the strong", but they will also improve their experimental techniques. Besides, it may be useful to have the world understand our practices. I think there is hope on PRI's future as long as this Memorial Service. That has nothing to do with research expenses or thesis continues. Once a year, it is desirable to look back on our own research practices in front of the Stone Monument.

The natural stone placed in front of the Stone Monument is a gravestone that I brought here some years ago in memory of a particular monkey, a Japanese macaque named "Eitaro". He was the first to die a natural death in the laboratory . When I was hired at PRI nearly 40 years ago, he was a most impressive macaque. As the leader of his group, that was brought from the wild to PRI in spring 1970, he was majestic and reliable. Once a staff entered the laboratory, holding a capture net. As an old brave macaque, Eitaro faced and confronted the staff to protect his group. With his chipped fang and his split lower lip, he looked like a "samurai" in his old days. Since I was in my twenties then, he was older than me. Several years later, when the staff of the Laboratory Primate Center released into the group Monjiro, the first baby macaque to be raised by humans, Eitaro took Monjiro under his guardianship. When Eitaro became senile in autumn 1976, a staff offered me to put him into a hospital room. However, I wanted him to stay among his group members until the end, since he had taken so good care of them. So I let things lay. One day, some 2-3 year old naughty macaques were found jumping on and playing with lying Eitaro. Then, Momotaro, ranked second in the group hierarchy, scared them away. Eitaro was such a loved leader. That is my memory of a great Japanese macaque which I respect from the bottom of my heart.

(The late Eitaro)in 1974.