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Posted by on Jan 26, 2014 in Environment, Featured, International, Law | 8 comments

Japanese fisherman try to hide slaughter of dolphins in Taiji cove from media view

Luojie, China Daily, China

Luojie, China Daily, China

It always was brutal. It always aroused anger in the west. But this year there was something even more ominous and — if it could indeed happen — even more unsettling about the butchering of dolphins in Taiji cove: the fishemen tried get in a position where they couldn’t be seen. Almost like someone grabbed from behind on an urban street and pulled into an alley for a beating, or worse:

Japanese fishermen drove a large group of dolphins into the shallows on Tuesday and, hiding from reporters and TV cameras behind a tarpaulin, killed at least 30 as the annual dolphin hunt that sparked protest in the West entered its final stages.

Both the U.S. and British ambassadors to Japan have strongly criticized the “drive killings” of dolphins citing the “terrible suffering” inflicted on the marine mammals.

Every year the fishermen of Taiji, in western Wakayama prefecture, drive hundreds of dolphins into a cove, select some for sale to marine parks, release some and kill the rest for meat.

On Tuesday, at least 30 dolphins out of the group of more than 200 held in the cove since Friday were herded by boat engines and nets into a killing area of the Taiji cove.

Fishermen waiting in the shallow waters by the shore, some in wet suits with snorkeling masks on their faces, wrestled the dolphins into submission and tied their tails with ropes to stop them from escaping.

But some video did surface on You Tube about the bloodshed and pain in the cove:


A graphic 15 minute video posted on You Tube 4 months ago shows what happens to the dolphins:

Websites trying to stop the slaughter run photos in the hopes that compassion, disgust and outrage will top the killing of the intelligent, beloved mammals. Like this:
japan-dolphin-cove-slaughter (1)

One of the most prominent websites is Save Japan Dolphins, which has an open letter from Yoko Ono which reads, in part:

Dear Japanese Fishermen of Taiji,

I understand how you must feel about the one-sided-ness of the West to be angry at your traditional capture and slaughter of Dolphins. But that tradition was made only when the world, and Japanese Fishermen did not know what it meant to do harm to the Dolphins. I’m sure you have heard so many speeches in which all of these things have been discussed. So I will not bore you with it.

But I think you should think of this situation from the point-of-view of the big picture. Japan has gone through such hard times lately. And we need the sympathy and help of the rest of the world. It will give an excuse for big countries and their children in China, India and Russia to speak ill of Japan when we should be communicating our strong love for peace, not violence.

I am sure that it is not easy, but please consider the safety of the future of Japan, surrounded by many powerful countries which are always looking for the chance to weaken the power of our country. The future of Japan and its safety depends on many situations, but what you do with Dolphins now can create a very bad relationship with the whole world.

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.

Go to the link to read it all.

The mistake in this kind of news story, is for critics to blame the entire country of Japan and all of its residents for this one village. Meanwhile, Japanese officials defend the slaughter, CNN reports, and argue that there are solid reasons that support this kind of activity:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters at a news conference Monday that marine mammals including dolphins were “very important water resources.”

“Dolphin fishing is one of traditional fishing forms of our country and is carried out appropriately in accordance with the law. Dolphin is not covered by the International Whaling Commission control and it’s controlled under responsibility of each country.”
Taiji mayor Kazutaka Sangen echoed the sentiments.

“We have fishermen in our community and they are exercising their fishing rights,” he said. “We feel that we need to protect our residents against the criticisms.”

He accused the Sea Shepherd of using the issue of dolphin hunting to raise funds and attract attention. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been live-streaming video of events in the cove and posting frequent updates on Twitter.

The Wakayama Prefectural Government, where Taiji is located, gives an annual “catching quota.” This year, the government allows for the hunting of 2,026 small porpoises and dolphins (557 are for bottlenose dolphins).

The dolphin hunt has seen some changes, Sangen said. The town wants to create a whale/porpoise study with the aim of bringing a marine park to the city. And the method of hunting has been changing, becoming less crude, he added.

U.S. Ambassador Carolyn Kennedy came under fire from Japanese officials for her Tweet condemning the slaughter:

Japan accused critics of its annual dolphin hunt — including U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy — of being hypocrites for not lamenting the killing of cattle and chickens in their countries for food.

The southwest fishing town of Taiji finished its annual roundup of bottlenose dolphins Tuesday, a longheld tradition that Kennedy called “inhumane” in a message on Twitter.

Japanese fishermen Tuesday trapped 250 dolphins in a cove using nets and killed about 40 of the animals for eating by severing their spines. About 50 were kept alive for sale to aquariums and the rest were set free, according to Sea Shepherd, an environmental group known for its anti-whaling activities.

Japanese officials and others were surprised that a diplomat from an ally would lash out at a traditional cultural food….

….Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen said Kennedy is attacking ordinary fishermen.

“We have fishermen in our community and they are exercising their fishing rights,” he said. “We feel that we need to protect our residents against the criticisms.”

A State Department official who asked not to be named because it is against policy to discuss the matter publicly said Kennedy proposed issuing her statement last week. The final wording of her tweet was the result of collaboration between Kennedy and other embassy officials and reflects official U.S. policy, the official said.

Masayhisa Sato, a Japanese lawmaker, suggested Kennedy acted inappropriately in her role as an ambassador to criticize a hunting tradition in a host country that she finds distasteful.

“I wonder whether it’s appropriate for ambassador to comment on this,” Sato said.
Kennedy’s Tweet brought back counter Tweets:

“Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries,” Kennedy tweeted in both English and Japanese. “USG” refers to the U.S. government.

Some Japanese Twitter users who spotted her Tweet responded.

“The drive hunt is a traditional fishery that was established long before the foundation of the United States of America,” said one message posted in response.

“Isn’t it inhumane to kill millions of cows and sheep for consumption?” asked another.

But Kennedy’s Tweet reflected a reality: the brutal killing of the dolphins is seen in the United States and many countries in the same negative light as as the annual slaughter-by-clubbing of seals in Canada.

Business Week notes that Japan keeps killing whales, too, and international efforts are underway to try to halt that:

While it’s unlikely that appeals from John F. Kennedy’s daughter and John Lennon’s widow will do much to dissuade the dolphin hunters of Taiji, there’s a chance that international pressure of a different sort will make this year the final whale hunt. Australia’s government has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arguing that Japan no longer has permission to conduct its whale hunt under the guise of research: “Japan’s continued pursuit of a large-scale program of whaling under the Second Phase of its Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (‘JARPA II’) is in breach of obligations assumed by Japan under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (‘ICRW’), as well as its other international obligations for the preservation of marine mammals and the marine environment.”

This is the first time the Japanese government has had to defend its whaling policy in an international tribunal. An Australian court ruled against Japan in 2008, but the Japanese didn’t accept the court’s jurisdiction and didn’t contest the case, says Donald Rothwell, a professor of international law at Australian National University who has advised the International Fund for Animal Welfare on whaling issues. “The Japanese didn’t even turn up,” says Rothwell.

Japan’s government did show up at the ICJ, though, so the case has already succeeded in forcing the Japanese to defend their scientific whaling policy. A ruling against Japan could put a halt to the Southern Ocean killing. Rothwell isn’t ready to predict which way the court will rule, but he does expect the ICJ will wait until after the Southern Hemisphere summer ends and this year’s whale hunt has concluded. “Given the politically contentious nature of the dispute over whaling, the court is mindful of not wanting to get itself too involved in international politics,” he says. A judgment in the middle of the whaling season “could create a lot of controversy.”

Some Tweets:

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