However, it's a controversial matter. There are many theories around as to these edicts and himself. Always only his craziness for dogs is emphasized in the history books, but some historians have reviewed the facts themselves.
The difference now from ancient times is that we live in a society based on the common understanding the preciousness of human/animal life. Even though they were extreme edicts, I think it might be one of triggers to think of the value of life for Japanese people at that time.