Japan Protest Against “Research” Whaling
By Kyoko (Kiki) Tanaka
On February 9th, Japanese activists held another demonstration against Japan’s whaling activities, focused on the so-called “research” whaling Japan conducts every year in the Antarctic in defiance of the international moratorium on commercial whaling. While notorious in the West, few Japanese have ever stood up to protest the destructive hunts. But the Japanese grassroots group Action for Marine Mammals hosted an event, attended by dozens of Japanese and several additional people from Canada, the US, Brazil, and Holland.
Our dear friend and colleague, Kyoko Tanaka, known to all as Kiki, helped the grassroots folks set up the demonstration. She has also worked with us at Save Japan Dolphins to arrange travel, translations, and media events for us. I asked Kiki to tell us how the demonstration went.
You will also note our photos are cropped to not show any faces from the demonstration. This is unfortunately necessary to help avoid harassment of any of the participants. – Ric O’Barry
It was a beautiful sunny day.
Held in the busy crossroads of Shibuya in Tokyo, about 50 people participated, 80% Japanese. The project was planned and organized by Action for Marine Mammals (AMM), led by Satoshi Komiyama.
(NOTE: Those of you who have seen The Cove will remember the final shots of me standing in Tokyo wearing my chest television set as sped-up people walk past. That busy crossroads is Shibuya. – Ric O’Barry)
I was worried about if a counter group should come. The whaling issue is considered to be a very sensitive topic, and therefore, we expected many counter demo people.
But fortunately, there were none. According to the Tokyo police, it was a national holiday weekend, and a few days before (Feb. 7th) was "the day of the northern territories". So many right-wingers were busy with other issues.
Our focus was only to spread the following information to the Japanese people:
- Our government spent 2.3 trillion yen (2,300,000,000yen) of 3.11 rescue funds (meant for earthquake and tsunami relief) to compensate the debt of “research” whaling.
- "Research" whaling is funded by our tax money.
- They say "research", but they sell the whale meat and try to make money.
- This is business, not research.
- There are more than 4000 tons of frozen whale meat in storage in Japan that has not been sold.
- Whale meat demand has been decreasing, so why do we need to keep killing the whales?
We chanted: "No more 'Research' whaling!!" and "Let's protect whales!!" We walked down the street towards one of the busiest crossing in the world, Shibuya crossing, and walked through this crowded area. There were literally thousands of people walking by who came to mid-town Tokyo on this weekend afternoon. They stopped, looked at us and listened to us.
Our demo took place for around one hour. We had enough bodyguards (Policemen!) to protect us (How nice!). The road was opened for us. We kept chanting and wishing our voices to be heard by the people there.
It was a really good demo. All the people who came were warm and full-of-heart people. Some came from the western part of Japan, some came to Tokyo only for the demo and returned right away, and some came from the other side of the globe.
Everyone was so wonderful to raise our voices for this demo. I was moved and felt warmth being with them. It was an indescribable feeling.
After the demo, I also heard that many passer-by reactions were pro-whaling. Maybe lots of people are still not so conscious about this issue. I spoke about this with my senior activist. He said, "What is important is that we repeat telling people about this issue, and let them feel this topic become more familiar so that one day they will start thinking for themselves."
His phrase tells me everything. Although the road may be long, we have to carry on, and we have to keep going on.
Thank you very much for your support from all over the world!
Photos by Yoav Ben-Shushan and Terra Baylor, volunteers with Save Japan Dolphins.