Second Anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami


I thought some of you might be interested in two things that happened at Monday's 2nd Anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami that I coordinated at the University of Minnesota with the student group NDJ, and the Saint-Paul Nagasaki Sister City Committee, of which I am a former board member.

The first is the Japanese singing group Mu Min, sang a lovely song about blooming flowers of hope. You can see a version of it below.

The second is that we had an update from JETRO Office in Chicago about the current conditions in the Tonoku area. One of the interesting things I learned is that they are providing robotic animal-assisted interactions. Thousands of people are still displaced and living in shelters, where they do not allow pets. The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago donated numerous PAROs to the evacuation centers.



I found the robotic pet therapy very intriguing. I looked up a couple of articles on it and found that the use of this “animal” may indeed be therapeutic. The Paros are classified as Class 2 medical devices in the United States. This means they are classified to be used for rehabilitation (Harmon, 2010). What I liked most about these is that they seem to have use with the elderly.

Although I don’t think robots can take the place of live animals, they may have advantages. Pets can be difficult and demanding to care for, but not a robotic therapy animal. Animals may also be forbidden in some places so a pet is not an option. Another potential positive is that with Paro’s plush coat, there is no pet dander to worry about, so even those with allergies can interact with it.

I particularly like the Paros use in Alzheimer’s units. Patients with dementia often have internal schedules that differ from others, where they may wake during the night and become agitated. Bringing a therapy dog into a hospital dog late at night might not be an option, but taking a Paro out to help calm the individual is possible. Aggression is also common in individuals experiencing dementia. Anecdotally, they have been shown to decrease agitation and aggression (Harmon, 2010).

People may be aggressive initially when this “pet” is brought out. Herein the Paro is a good option over a live animal. There is no risk of injuring an animal if the Paro is used, or of the person getting nipped for their harsh touch. I also really like that the Paros respond to aggressive touch with a squeal. The squeal demonstrates inappropriate touch, so the person may be less likely to do it again.

I found a clip from CNN about Paro, but was unable to imbed it. I’ve included a link to it for anyone who is interested in viewing it. Again, I don’t think that the Paro should replace animals in our lives, but they may have use in what they are classified for- as a therapy device.

CNN video clip-


Harmon, A. (2010, July 4). A soft spot for circuitry. The New York Times. Retrieved from

I like the song you linked to your blog its very beautiful and touching even though I don't know what they are saying. I am also fascinated with the idea of robotic animal assisted interactions. I think it is very impressive that something like PARO exists. I think this will help people who have allergies to animals be able to experience animal assisted interactions. Also, in one of the papers we read it said that many people are not able to experience animal assisted interactions on a regular basis because many people are no longer buying their homes, instead they are renting their homes and most contracts prevent them from having pets. A robotic animal could help people get around these rules while still following the rules. Although, this would not truly give people the same satisfaction I think it is a good place to start.

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This page contains a single entry by meye0539 published on March 13, 2013 2:15 PM.

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