Japanese voices against the Taiji dolphin hunt
One disturbing reaction to the exposé of Taiji dolphin hunt is the idea that it has something to do with a supposed inhumane nature of Japanese culture or the Japanese people. Comment threads below news articles or blog posts inevitably contain a few (or more than a few) racist insults or ignorant stereotypes. I know, I know, it’s the internet, what can I expect?
The fact is that the majority of Japanese people do not know about what is going on in the cove due to a wide-scale media blackout in the country. This blackout should be condemned, but we shouldn’t get on our high horses and believe that “this could never happen” in our own countries. Something horrible that you don’t know about probably is happening in your country or at the hands of your government in another country right now. Finding out your governments sells weapons or props up ruthless dictators kind of puts things into perspective, as does discovering how human activity harms dolphins around the world.
Having said that I’d just like to share a few Japanese voices that are speaking out and campaigning against the dolphin hunt.
Let’s start with Yoko Ono, the most famous of the voices, who penned a letter pleading with the Japanese fishermen of Taiji to stop the dolphin slaughter.
The way you are insisting on a big celebration of killing so many Dolphins and kidnapping some of them to sell to the zoos and restaurants at this very politically sensitive time, will make the children of the world hate the Japanese.
–From Yoko Ono’s letter to the fishermen of Taiji
Greenfudge recently received an unsolicited email from a Japanese activist, Toshio Yashiro, who shared his text with us regarding the Taiji dolphin hunt. Yashiro claims that the hunt is not concerned with Japanese food culture or tradition, but rather with the live dolphin trade, which is fuelled by demand in countries all over the world.
That means tourism at marine parks like Sea World and thousands of carbon copies around the world are what drives it. Dolphin slaughter for food, according to Yashiro, is a skilful deception. He argues for the organization of boycotts of dolphin shows in all countries. Read his entire text here plus another of his texts containing shocking behind-the-scenes photos from a dolphin show by Taiwanese photographer Huang-Ju Chen.
Then there is Izumi Ishii (Facebook page), a former dolphin hunter turned conservationist who comes from a long line of dolphin and whale hunters. Ishii has been running dolphin and whale watching tours in the village of Futo since 2002.
In 2003 BlueVoice brought Mr. Ishii and Mr. Inaba, a member of the city council of Ito County to Monterey, California. Here they were able to see first hand the enormous benefits a successful whale watching business could bring to a city. Mr. Inaba was impressed and promised to do all he could to promote dolphin/whale watching in Futo and to end the dolphin slaughters.
And finally this excerpt from interview with activist Satoshi Komiyama (via Take Part):had to question myself why it was necessary, because none of my family, friends, or people I knew had never eaten dolphins in their lives. I thought that we as Japanese people had to do something about it. Since then, I founded a group to protect dolphins and organized demonstrations. At one point, I was the head of a group called AMM (Action for Marine Mammals). We held a demo in Shibuya, Tokyo in November 2012 to protest against the dolphin hunting and whaling. I left AMM in April, and now I have a group called Flipper’s Japan to protect dolphins.
According to a post on the Action for Marine Mammals Facebook page, an anti-dolphin hunt demonstration is planned for January 24, 6pm at Kasumigaseki in front of the Fisheries Agency, demanding “the cessation of dolphin hunts and the retraction of the statement that ‘Dolphin hunting is Japanese Culture’”.