TAIJI, Wakayama Prefecture, 2 September 2014 (Asahi Shimbun) – This coastal community’s annual dolphin hunt kicked off Sept. 1, and foreign anti-whaling activists were out in force to protest the slaughter as dozens of police officers stood by to keep the peace.
Taiji is regarded as the cradle of traditional whaling in Japan. Ever since its dolphin drive was portrayed in an unflattering light in the Academy Award-winning 2009 documentary “The Cove,” this small town has been on the radar of international conservation groups.
Rough water conditions Sept. 1 led local fishermen to cancel herding dolphins into an inlet to be killed. As a precaution, however, a large number of police officers was mobilized to prevent confrontations between fishermen and anti-whaling activists.
The drive comes after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ordered Japan in March to stop killing whales for research purposes in the Antarctic.
“There is no reason for us to be criticized for the dolphin hunt, and we will not give up hunting due to harassment,” said Shuichi Matsumoto, 52-year-old president of the Taiji-Isana fishermen’s union. “We will continue hunting with pride.”
On Sept. 1, about 20 members of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society showed up at the pier of Taiji port shortly after 5 a.m. and strolled around for an hour or so.
Members in uniform T-shirts and hoisting a banner protesting the dolphin hunt shot videos of the fishing boats with their mobile phones and posted them on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
About 30 members of another anti-whaling group also showed up, as did about 70 police officers.
Police officers now patrol the town around the clock.
The Wakayama prefectural police set up a temporary “koban” police box near the cove where the drive is held to prevent altercations occurring during the hunting season that lasts until the end of April next year. […]
The documentary film, The Cove, features shocking scenes of dolphins thrashing as fishermen stab them with harpoons, turning the water of the inlet a bloody red.
The manner of the slaughter led to heavy criticism. So now the fishermen drive the dolphins into shallow waters with nets and stab their vital organs with knives to kill them quickly. [more]