Hyogo: No Monkeying Around on Fraud

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japanese macaques squat in the shape of the katakana characters for “sagi,” meaning “fraud” or “scam.”

SUMOTO, Hyogo — Japanese macaques living on Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture have been assigned the task of taking part in preventive measures against criminal offenses.

The Awaji Island Monkey Center in Sumoto, a central city on the island, feeds about 350 macaques living in the mountains nearby. When the center’s staff arranges food to form a character on the ground, the macaques come out to munch on the food, making the character stand out in fluffy brown.

Troops of Japanese macaques usually have a strict hierarchy, with higher-status monkeys never dining with those below them. However, the monkeys on the island can apparently pull off the character display feat because they are generous to each other and rarely have fights.

This time, the monkeys formed the katakana characters “sa” and “gi,” The word “sagi” in Japanese means “fraud” or “scam.” Sumoto police planned the activity to help prevent phone scams and other types of so-called unconventional fraud. The monkeys’ pictures will be used by the Hyogo prefectural police for posters and other purposes.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Macaques reach out for food at the Awaji Monkey Center in Sumoto, Hyogo Prefecture.