Dolphins have been herded into a cove as part of an annual hunt in the Japanese seaside town made famous by an Oscar-winning documentary about their slaughter, conservationist group Sea Shepherd said yesterday. A town official said none were killed.
The dolphin hunt at Taiji, documented in The Cove, begins on Sept. 1 every year. The boats returned empty on Wednesday, but on Thursday, some dolphins were corralled into the inlet, according to anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd and a fishing official in Taiji.
The official in charge of media queries at the Taiji fishing organization said a handful of dolphins were kept for aquariums, but the rest were set free yesterday morning. He declined to give details.
He said the criticism the town has received from the West was unfair because residents were merely trying to make a living, and the rocky landscape made it difficult to go into farming or livestock.
Sea Shepherd said it has been monitoring Taiji with a small crew of Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and Japanese this week.
Ric O’Barry, who stars in The Cove, has gathered about 100 people in Tokyo, including supporters from abroad, to protest the dolphin slaughter. He took a petition with 1.7 million signatures from 155 nations to the US embassy on Thursday.
“The dolphins need defenders at the cove today and tomorrow,” said Michael Dalton of Sea Shepherd in a statement from Taiji. “If you came to Japan to save dolphins, the place to be is Taiji and the time to be here is now.”
O’Barry, 70, the former dolphin trainer for the 1960s Flipper TV show, has received threats from a violent nationalist group and skipped going to Taiji this year, a trip he makes every year to try to save the dolphins.
He said he had been advised by Japanese authorities not to go to Taiji, and repeatedly stressed that he does not want confrontation.
He was flanked by police, as well as supporters, when he went to the US embassy. But some of his supporters said they are headed to Taiji.
Nationalist groups say criticism of dolphin hunting is a denigration of Japanese culture.
The Japanese government allows a hunt of about 20,000 dolphins a year, and argues that killing them — and 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 government is also critical of Sea Shepherd, which has harassed Japanese whaling ships. In July, a Tokyo court convicted New Zealander Peter Bethune, a former Sea Shepherd activist, of obstructing a Japanese whaling mission in the Antarctic Ocean, assault, trespassing and other charges. He was not sent to prison and was deported.
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, where they kill them. 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. Most of the dolphins are generally eaten as meat after a handful of the best looking are sold off to aquariums.
In related news, Greenpeace chief Kumi Naidoo yesterday likened Japan’s treatment of two of its anti-whaling activists to the tactics of the former apartheid regime he once campaigned against in his native South Africa.
The activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, face possible jail terms on Monday for stealing a box of whale meat, which they later presented to media and authorities as proof of embezzlement in the state-run whaling program.
Naidoo, at a Tokyo news conference, condemned Japanese police for keeping the two activists in detention for 26 days after their arrests, during which they were interrogated without lawyers present while strapped to their chairs.
The way Sato and Suzuki were treated after their high-profile arrests more than two years ago “reminds me of the way that the apartheid system treated those that tried to oppose it,” said Naidoo, Greenpeace’s international executive director
North Korea yesterday made a rare mention of dissenting votes in recent elections, although analysts dismissed it as an attempt to portray an image of a normal society rather than signaling any meaningful increase of rights in the authoritarian state. The reclusive country has one of the most highly controlled societies in the world, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accused of using a system of patronage and repression to retain absolute power. Reporting on the results of Sunday’s election for deputies to regional people’s assemblies, the North’s state media said that 0.09 percent and 0.13 percent voted against the selected candidates
‘SYMBOLIC ATTACK’: Ukraine said it downed 74 of the Iranian-made drones, but five people were wounded in Kyiv, as people marked Holodomor Remembrance Day Ukraine on Saturday said it had downed 74 out of 75 drones Russia launched at it overnight, in what it said was the biggest such attack since the start of the invasion in February last year. The Ukrainian army said Russia had launched a “record number” of Iranian-made Shahed drones, the majority of which targeted Kyiv, causing power cuts as temperatures dipped below freezing. The drone attack came as Ukraine marked Holodomor Remembrance Day, commemorating the 1930s starvation of millions in Ukraine under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. “The enemy launched a record number of attack drones at Ukraine. The main direction
‘SCOURGE’: About 50,000 people demonstrated in Rome after the murder of a 22-year-old university student, while others highlighted the number of femicides in their nations Thousands of people took to the streets across the world on Saturday to condemn violence against women on the international day highlighting the crime. On the UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, protesters marched in Europe and the Americas. “The scourge of gender-based violence continues to inflict pain and injustice on too many,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement. “An estimated one in three women globally will experience physical violence, rape, or stalking at some point in their lifetimes. It’s an outrage.” In Guatemala, protesters began commemorations on Friday evening, placing candles to write out 438 —
WEATHER PROBLEM: Seoul said the launch, which comes after the North said its new spy satellite is taking images of US military facilities, was rescheduled for Saturday South Korea has delayed the planned launch of its first military spy satellite set for tomorrow, officials said, days after rival North Korea said it had put its own spy satellite into orbit for the first time. Under a contract with SpaceX, South Korea is to launch five spy satellites by 2025, and its first launch using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket had been scheduled to take place at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US. The South Korean Ministry of National Defense yesterday said in a brief statement that the launch was delayed due to weather conditions. Ministry officials said the