Disaster, But No Relief
By Leah Lemieux
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute
It is no secret that security has been ramped up in Taiji since last season's dolphin hunt finished. Last year, there were usually fewer than six policemen around at any one time at the Cove. Now there are often a dozen or more, with several dozen showing up on Sept. 1st when Ric O’Barry and the Save Japan Dolphins Team came to town.
As always, we who are on the ground here with Save Japan Dolphins appreciate the authorities' professionalism, concern and courtesy.
As you may recall, Typhoon Talas struck Japan around Sept 1st when SJD supporters from a number of different countries traveled to the Cove in Taiji for a special prayer ceremony lead by Ric O'Barry to mourn the many thousands of dolphins that have died there and those who will be killed this season.
The damage to parts of this area from Talas' heavy rains, flooding and mud slides was significant and resulted in loss of life for a number of local people in the Nachi-Katsuura area, only about 15 minutes drive from Taiji. Only in the last day or two have some of the mountain roads opened up enough to allow cars through, so today I was able to document some of the destruction this community has suffered from this terrible natural disaster.
It is extremely troubling to contemplate the millions of yen being spent to maintain a superfluous police presence in Taiji to acquiesce to the demands and protect the interests of such a tiny group of men who insist on continuing the dolphin slaughter – when so many people in this area are suffering from the loss of their homes, family and shelter. It’s heart breaking, and it clearly highlights the undercurrents of corruption at work in this Blood Dolphin business of capturing, killing and trading in live cetaceans.
This is not to imply that any of the officers on duty here are in any way corrupt –quite the opposite. Rather we must turn our attention to the Taiji and Wakayama prefecture decision-makers who have allotted the funding to protect the interests of the dolphin hunters rather than to help those people who need it most as they struggle to recover from this natural disaster.
This situation brings into stark relief not only the harm and corruption that supports the Taiji dolphin hunter's trade in live and dead dolphins, but shows us that the hunters' disregard for life extends also toward the Japanese citizens in this coastal area. Taiji's shame only grows deeper.
Meanwhile, we are looking into donating some bedding, blankets and heaters to those in need here.
A small gesture perhaps, but most heartfelt.
Photography of Typhoon Talas damage by Leah Lemieux.
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