Sarah Lucas, head of the group Australia for Dolphins, wanted to enter the Taiji Whale Museum in February, but a ticket officer showed them a sign with large English letters that read: “No anti-whalers are allowed inside the museum.”

Now, Lucas is seeking seven million yen (that’s $69,000 USD) in damages over claims that include she and her father were “rudely and aggressively escorted” from the Taiji Whale Museum.

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“I believe the museum had no right to assume, based only on a single glance, that my father and I are troublemakers or bad people,” Lucas told the court, the statement said.

Plaintiff lawyer Takashi Takano told the court that, “It is against various statutes including the constitution and international covenants on human rights,” according to a press release issued after the hearing. The lawsuit claims that the museum’s barring of “foreign-looking visitors” violated Japanese law, which prohibits discrimination based on race or creed.

But the museum’s director, Katsuki Hayashi says that, “we welcome (foreigners) who are clearly tourists…We aim to protect the town’s culture, assets and fishery.”

There’s a lot of fuss over Taiji, a town that is infamous for its annual dolphin hunt. Activists have been trying to stop Japan’s whaling program and the town’s dolphin slaughter, and for good reason. During the annual hunt, local fishermen corral hundreds of dolphins into a secluded bay, then kill them for meat or sell the most beautiful ones to aquariums. Defenders of this practice would call it a tradition. The town of Taiji appears in the chilling and sad 2009 documentary, “The Cove.”

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Dolphins are one of the most intelligent species on this planet and swim up to 100 miles a day in the wild. They should not be kept captive in small tanks. Recreational dolphin programs and attractions are a direct result of the dolphin drives in Taiji. It’s programs like this that result in needing petitions like this: Tell Kim Kardashian There’s Nothing Cute About Kissing and Riding Captive Dolphins.

Image source: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP

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