JAPAN- Some Japanese are resorting to violent threats against Ric O’Barry and others who challenge Taiji’s annual dolphin slaughter. Though Japan claims it’s a tradition, ‘The Cove’ director, Louie Psihoyos, likens it to America’s former tradition of slavery, noting that unjust ‘traditions’ can and should end. – Global Animal


The star of an Oscar-winning documentary about a Japanese town that slaughters dolphins has delivered a petition to the US Embassy in Tokyo demanding an end to the hunt.

The Cove star Ric O’Barry handed the petition, signed by 1.7 million people from 155 nations, to an official at the embassy’s gate.

O’Barry, 70, the former dolphin trainer for the 1960s Flipper TV show, was flanked by police and followed by dozens of supporters with flags and a banner saying, “Let’s save Japanese dolphins.”

He had hoped to deliver the petition to the Japanese fisheries agency but cancelled the plan after an ultra-nationalist group known for violence threatened him. Nationalist groups say criticism of dolphin hunting is a denigration of the country’s culture.

The Japanese government allows a hunt of about 20,000 dolphins a year, and argues that killing them – and also whales – is no different from raising cows or pigs for slaughter. Most Japanese have never eaten dolphin meat and, even in Taiji, it is not consumed regularly.

The Cove, which won this year’s Academy Award for best documentary, depicts a handful of fishermen from the town of Taiji who scare dolphins into a cove and kill them slowly, piercing them repeatedly until the waters turn red with blood. Other Japanese towns that hunt dolphins kill them at sea.

Taiji, which has a population of 3,500 people, defends the dolphin killing as tradition and a livelihood. The annual hunt started on Wednesday, although boats returned empty. Most of the dolphins are eaten as meat after a handful of the best looking are sold off to aquariums.

“I’m not losing hope. Our voice is being heard in Taiji,” said O’Barry, who has campaigned for four decades to save dolphins not only from slaughter but also from captivity.

The film’s Japanese debut became a free-speech fight. It opened in some theatres in June after earlier screenings were cancelled when cinemas received a flood of angry phone calls and threats by far-right nationalists.

But the latest threat, coming from a group with a history of violence, is more ominous. O’Barry said he cancelled a trip to Taiji, where he had hoped to hold a protest and speak with the mayor.

Louie Psihoyos, the director of The Cove, said he doesn’t agree with blindly sticking with tradition.

“In America we had a much longer tradition of slavery, but that was banned,” Psihoyos told The Associated Press. “My message to Japan is to see the movie for yourself with an open mind.”

– AP


Read more about this issue at http://www.globalanimal.org/2010/09/01/senseless-horrific-dolphin-slaughter-begins-again-in-taiji/13823/