Blog | Some Good News: A Demonstration by Japanese in Taiji Against the Dolphin Slaughter

Some Good News: A Demonstration by Japanese in Taiji Against the Dolphin Slaughter

January 15, 2011 by Ric O'Barry, Earth Island Institute


Some Good News: A Demonstration by Japanese in Taiji Against the Dolphin Slaughter

By Ric O’Barry

Campaign Director

Save Japan Dolphins

Earth Island Institute

Six very brave Japanese women held a small but important demonstration against the dolphin slaughter today in Taiji.  We know many people who are strongly opposed to the dolphin hunts.  But if they speak out, they risk their jobs and even their friendships with other Japanese neighbors.  The Japanese government can come down hard on them.  So it is very remarkable indeed that these six women arrived in Taiji to voice their opposition. 

Our friend and volunteer correspondent in Taiji, Leah Lemieux, reports on this important development:

Today, an important event was scheduled for Japanese to come to the Cove to voice and demonstrate their opposition to killing dolphins in Taiji.  We wondered if the dolphin hunters would go out in their boats, as there would be Japanese citizens and possibly media around.  I thought probably not.

And I was right.  Just like when Ric was here for the town meeting back in November, the boats stayed in and everything around the Fishermen’s Union was packed up tight.  But what a sight awaited us in the Taiji harbor....

A monstrous ship was parked there, dwarfing everything around it!  This was a Japan Coast Guard vessel, and soon some of the Guardsmen were to be seen disembarking.  They were here because of this demonstration event planned today!

So we then headed to the Cove, arriving the find the parking lot absolutely abuzz with all manner of police and security, many reporters, film crews and media and all manner of hangers-on!

Thing was, the actual contingent of Japanese there for this "protest" numbered about five or six, typically petite, sweet, soft-spoken young Japanese ladies.

All this ridiculous fuss, a wall of security and cameras and a goliath coast guard vessel.  All afraid of a handful of Japanese ladies.

Absolutely everyone seemed flummoxed.  We, by all the security hoopla.  And they, by the lack of Sea Shepherd, or any sign of angry activists or opposition.

Rather what we had here were the modest seeds of gentle change, born of quiet courage and simple compassion.  This may be the birth of true Japanese grassroots for the dolphins, without any bells and whistles.  These determined woman came from as far away as Osaka and even Tokyo to show with their presence, their determination to see the dolphin hunt end, and something better to take its place.

I conducted a series of short interviews with all the Japanese ladies, some in English and others that will require translation.  All were in accordance that they had seen The Cove and do not agree that dolphin killing and eating dolphins should remain part of their culture any longer, that the time for this practice is past.  They wanted to learn the truth behind the film by coming to Taiji to see for themselves.  All were struck by the incredible beauty of this place, and all voiced the hope that marine reserves and eco-tourism can be brought into being to both protect the dolphins from harm and provide new jobs and vitality for Taiji.  Amen!

With media in tow, the Japanese ladies were led on a short tour past the whaling museum to pause where the huge whaling ship, that once stood in proud testament, is being dismantled -- perhaps a poignant indicator of changing times in Japan.

Then we all went down to the Cove itself, somber and quiet.  Everyone could feel the residue of what has been happening there these last days.


Then back up to the parking lot where the media interviewed the little group about what has brought them to Taiji this day.  The typical argument, that opposition comes strictly from westerners who do not understand Japanese culture and have no say of any import in the affairs of this country, is being dismantled as rapidly as the Taiji whaling ship.

As an acorn holds the promise of a mighty oak, so this day also represents a seed of change and hope for the dolphins.  Over the next year more people will make their feelings known in Japan now that the first courageous people have dared to step out.  It was a beautiful day in Taiji.



Photos by Leah Lemieux.

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Some Good News: A Demonstration by Japanese in Taiji Against the Dolphin Slaughter