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Home » Archives » September 2005 » Dolphin Slaughter in Taiji, Japan

Dolphin Slaughter in Taiji, Japan

Tuesday, September 6, 2005 Posted: 09:28 AM JST

Every year between October and April many hundreds of dolphins are slaughtered in the small town of Taiji, in the Japanese prefecture of Wakayama, a few hours drive from Osaka. Marine mammal specialist Ric O'Barry of One Voice-France, who has been leading protests against the killing, explains his reasons and methods:

(by Richard O'Barry) - In response to our call for October 8 to be an international day of protest at Japanese consulates and embassies against the Taiji dolphin slaughters, we have received much correspondence suggesting that we should either hit Japan with an all-out boycott, or just meet quietly with the Japanese officials. Both approaches have already been repeatedly attempted, and both were big mistakes.

Having witnessed the dolphin slaughters myself, I can report with absolute certainty that the Japanese people are not guilty of these crimes against nature. I saw only 26 whalers in 13 boats drive dolphins into a cove and slaughter them. The vast majority of the people in Taiji and surrounding villages were exceptionally friendly toward our small group of protesters, and should not be targeted and punished for something they are not guilty of.

The Japanese people don't need a boycott. They need access to the information that we take for granted. If they knew the truth about the dolphin slaughter, they would help us to stop it.

The fishers who hunt and kill dolphins in Taiji agree with us. They revealed this to us at a meeting we had with them at Taiji City Hall. When they asked us why we had come to Taiji, we told them we wanted to document the methods used to conduct the dolphin massacres and let the Japanese people know the truth about their hunt. The fishers reply was, "The Japanese people have no right to know about the dolphin slaughter. It is none of their business."

The fishermen in Taiji spend much of their time hiding their activities. They erect a roof of blue tarpaulin over the lagoon in which the dolphins are killed, for example, to avoid being photographed while killing dolphins. They know that if the images reach the Japanese public, their days as dolphin hunters are numbered. For that very reason, we will continue to travel to the remote Taiji fishing villages to document what is going on.

Boycotting Japan was the chosen strategy of most of the well-funded US animal welfare and environmental groups who pooled their money in 1975-1976 and took out full page advertisements in leading newspapers to promote their campaign. This misguided effort did not save any whales, but some Japanese/American children were beaten up on U.S. playgrounds and called "Jap whale killers." Surely, this is not a situation that we would want to repeat.

I spent most of 1975-76 traveling from Coconut Grove, Florida, to several cities in the U.S., and eventually Japan, with scores of Japanese and American musicians and environmentalists, including Fred Neil, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Shigado Izumia, Warren Zevon, Harry Hossano, John Sebastian, former California governor Jerry Brown, the Paul Winter Consort, and a great many other concerned artists.

Known as "The Rolling Coconut Review," we tried to put a stop to the boycott, and eventually succeeded, but not before the "Boycott Japan!" rhetoric had given the entire Japanese whaling industry the opportunity to pretend that western opposition to whaling was based on racism. Japanese opposition to whaling, already rising then, has struggled against that stereotype for 30 years.

It is the Japanese people who can stop the dolphin massacres. In order to make this happen, we need to build bridges, not burn them. But building bridges requires working outdoors, in plain sight.

We have already tried quiet meetings with Japanese officials, in Paris, London, Brussels, Miami, Bern, Seattle, Vancouver, New York, Washington D.C., and just about every other location where a Japanese embassy or consulate office exists.

During these closed-door meetings, we were made to feel comfortable, even welcomed. We were served tea and coffee and everyone was cordial. We even bowed to each other as a sign of mutual respect. We filed our usual complaint, the meeting was adjourned, we bowed again, and the door closed behind us as we left the building. Nothing changed for the dolphins.

In Taiji, the dolphin slaughter started on October 1, as it does most years. The killings continued through April, and 20,000 dolphins were killed with little public outcry. We should have known all along that the only way to stop this madness is to expose it to the world. What goes on in Taiji will forever play in the minds of those who have seen it. The smell of death and fear lingers, the dolphins' cries never go away, and neither does the sound of the fishers banging metal poles to drive them into the shallows, where they cannot escape.

We who tried to stop the killing through diplomatic meetings behind closed doors--and I was one of them--failed miserably. The Taiji dolphin slaughter takes place so far away that it is invisible and silent to the diplomats. Even if they privately deplore it, ending it has no urgency for them.

What we need to do on October 8 is show the Japanese people exactly what goes on in Taiji. We need to do it in a way that gives strength to Japanese opponents of the dolphin massacres, who are just beginning to recover from the previous "Boycott Japan!" fiasco. We need to be friendly, respectful, and visible.

For information on the October 8th international protest: www.savetaijidolphins.org.

Richard O'Barry
Marine Mammal Specialist
One Voice-France
Miami Florida Office
(1) 305-6684834
ricobarry [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Keywords: opinion_item

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5 comments so far post your own

1 | At 09:35am on Sep 06 2005, Richard O'Barry wrote:
Japan Dolphin Day, October 8th 2005: Protest the Slaughter

WHAT: An international day of protest is being held on October 8th to call on the Japanese authorities to once and for all ban the brutal slaughter of dolphins.

WHY: Every year from September through April, fishermen in Japan hunt and kill about
20,000 dolphins and other whales in the most brutal way imaginable. This is the
largest massacre of dolphins anywhere in the world. The fishermen say they kill the dolphins primarily as a form of "pest control." They say the dolphins eat too many fish, and they are simply eradicating the competition. We need to let them know that these crimes against nature are unacceptable to the rest of the world. Help us send a powerful message to the Japanese dolphin hunters and their government: STOP THE DOLPHIN SLAUGHTER NOW.

OUR GOAL: Our goal is to make this the biggest global protest against the dolphin slaughter in history.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE: The short answer is: Everyone. NGO's, Schools, bands, clubs, businesses, concerned individuals.

This event is not limited to animal protection groups. Children should be educated about this issue and have the opportunity to participate in a global effort to stop the dolphin slaughter. What a great learning experience for a child that would be, especially if they actually won as a result of their efforts. Please contact your friends and neighbors, local schools and civic clubs. Ask them to show up at noon on October 8th at a Japanese embassy, or consulate office near you.

HOW: It's simple. Click on the link below. It will take you to a list of Japanese embassies around the world. Choose one and let them know how you feel about the dolphin massacre.


Here are the US embassies and consulate offices:


OR: Take a look at the list below. Has a protest been organized near a city where you live? If so, join them. We need TENS OF THOUSANDS of non-violent, peaceful protesters in front of Japanese embassies around the world on October 8th.


*Action Against Poisoning ~ Den Haag
*Animal Rights Foundation of Florida ~ Miami
*Americas Whale Alliance ~ San Francisco
*Animal Friends ~ Croatia
*Animalisti Italiani Onlus ~ Rome
*Animal Voices Radio, CIUT 89.5 FM ~ Toronto
*Anima Mundi ~ San Francisco
*Animals Voice.com ~ Seattle
*Animal Welfare Institute ~Washington DC
*Bite Back ~ Brussels
*Blue Voice ~ San Francisco
*Born Free Foundation ~ London
*British Divers Marine Life Rescue ~ London
*Campaign Whale ~ London
*Captive Animals Protection Society ~ London
*Captive Dolphin Awareness Foundation ~ Huston
*Catastrophes ~ London
*Cetacean Defense ~ London
*Cetacean Society International ~ New York
*Comarino ~ Mexico City
*Committee for a Dolphinarium-Free Belgium ~ Brussels
*Dolphin Encountours ~ Mozambique
*Dolphin Project ~ Miami
*Delphis ~ Rome
*Diana Thater Studio ~ Los Angeles
*Earth Island Institute ~ San Francisco, Manila, Solomon Islands
*EcoTerra ~ Nairobi
*EDEV ~ Den Haag
*Environmental Investigative Agency ~ London
*Fundacion Altarriba ~ Barcelona
*GAIA ~ Brussels
*Georgia Animal Rights and Protection ~ Atlanta
*Green Beings Animation Studio ~ San Francisco
*Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society ~ Hong Kong
*HSUS ~ Washington DC
*In Defense of Animals ~ San Francisco
*International Animal Rescue ~ London
*Irish Seal Sanctuary ~ Dublin
*Last Chance for Animals ~ Los Angeles
*Marine Connection ~ London
*Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition ~ Boston
*Morigenos ~ Slovenia
*New York Whale and Dolphin Action League ~ New York
*Nomades des Oceans ~ Paris
*Ocean Care ~ Bern
*Ocean Defense International ~ San Francisco
*One Voice ~ Paris, Marseille, Miami
*Orca Network ~ Seattle
*Philippine Society for Animal Protection ~ Manila
*Rattle the Cage ~ Miami
*Re-Earth ~ Nassau
*Reseau-Cetaceas ~ Paris
*RSPCA ~ London
*Sanoma People for Animal Rights ~ San Francisco
*Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ~ Vienna, Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Istanbul, London, Den Haag, Strasburg,
Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Miami, Portland, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, Vancouver BC
*Sasha Farm ~ Detroit
*SHARK ~ Chicago
*Sea Vita ~ Caracas
*Sonic Cowboys ~ Miami
*SOS Grand Bleu ~ Marseille
*Vier Photen ~ Bern
*United Action for Animals ~ New York
*WDCS ~ London
*Whale Workshop ~ London
*Wild Earth Foundation ~ Buenos Aires
*WSPA ~ London
*Zoo Check Canada ~ Toronto

"Eighty percent of success is showing up"
Woody Allen
2 | At 01:01am on Sep 14 2005, francisco de javier wrote:
I did felt your lovely spirit, I did learn about your deep culture, I do really love so much Japan but I can not understand upon your spirit of generosity how my japanese brothers can kill in a such a way of brutality.
3 | At 10:03pm on Sep 28 2005, Sigrid Lueber wrote:
The way of killing dolphins in Japan is inhumane. The slaughter of so many animals senseless - especially knowing that their meat is highly contaminated with Mercury, PCB's, DDT. Does the Japanese Government really want a second "Minamata-Desease"? Considering the negative health impact of the dolphin and whale meat consumption due to the contaminants it contains, it is easy to understand, that the animals themselves are not in a healthy state either. Their populations should not be declined through direct hunt.

Sigrid Lueber
P.O. Box 30
CH-8820 Waedenswil - Switzerland
4 | At 02:55am on Sep 29 2005, madeline bolbol wrote:
On the 8th of October, worldwide demonstrations will be held at all Japanese embassies/consulates protesting the annual slaughter of dolphins at Taiji and Futo.
I join the thousands of people worldwide to urge the Japanese government to end this annual slaughter of dolphins at Taiji and Futo. This brutality is condemned by all.
It is ironic that the Japanese government has endorsed a website for the children, "Create Your Future,"encouraging children worldwide to take interest in and gain an understanding of environmental issues, and to think and act independently in response." Are the children aware of the annual slaughter of dolphins? In fact, the Japanese people are no doubt unaware of the brutality against mammals being committed on their coastline.
This slaughter must stop.
5 | At 01:53pm on Sep 29 2005, Annette Martinez wrote:
I do not understand how a human can look into the eyes of another mammal, hear their cries, see their pain and their blood pour from their bodies while they are torturing them. It is both sickening and sadening. These dolphins are beautiful, intelligent, innocent and spiritual beings. They cannot fight against the spears and the man made tools used to kill them. They need our help.
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