If the novelist's comments are true, there is possibility she has violated the French Penal Code.
In the column, which appeared in the paper's Aug. 18 evening edition, Bando wrote, "If I write this, I know I'll be criticized...I killed some kittens." She said she had refrained from sterilizing three female cats that she kept, and dropped the kittens they gave birth to over a cliff near her home. The novelist argued that sterilization and killing young kittens soon after they are born was the same thing.
After the column was published, the newspaper was flooded with protests. Animal protection groups have demanded that her actions be investigated.
Bando reportedly acknowledges sterilization as a way to control stray cats, but said humans had no right to sterilize other living beings. She also said they had no right to kill offspring after birth.
"I chose 'life' for the cats I had raised, but chose to kill the kittens in line with my responsibility to society," she said. "Of course I have to take a share in the pain and sadness of killing."
The Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that the French Penal Code is divided into three categories. In the case of killing kittens, there is a possibility that the medium level of "misdemeanor," which carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment, or the minimum "police offence" could be applied.
"If this is true it's unforgivable by any means," a society official said. Officials are asking the paper to investigate the novelist's actions.
Speaking through the newspaper, Bando said, "I've been living in Tahiti for eight years. I've come to think deeply about 'life' including that of animals, and by extension, 'death.' 'Kitten killing' fits in with this. I expressed my thoughts from the standpoint of what living means for animals."
As of Aug. 23, the newspaper had reportedly received about 300 e-mails and 60 telephone calls about the column, many of which expressed criticism. The French embassy in Japan reportedly was also hindered by inquiries.
Newspaper officials said they had confirmed the contents of the article with the author before it was published.
"We respect the autonomy of the author," an official said. "We want to receive the various opinions sincerely."
Bando, a winner of the 116th Naoki literary award, was born in Kochi Prefecture, and is known as a horror novelist. She has written for films such as "Inugami" and "Shikoku."
Novelist Masako Bando causes uproar by admitting to killing kittens in column