For the past five days, the world has watched headlines blow up and screens flash with images and video footage from Taiji’s 2014 dolphin round-up, a so-called “tradition” that has been happening since 1969.
This cruel event happens annually, but it was really only in 2009 when the round-up and subsequent slaughter and capture became etched into public consciousness thanks to the documentary “The Cove.”
Perhaps spurred by this year’s documentary sensation, “Blackfish,” which exposed the suffering of marine mammals in captivity, the story of Taiji’s dolphins has now blown up to monumental proportions with nonprofit organizations, celebrities, the public, and even a government official and a hacker group sounding off about it.
This week, leaders at the forefront of the movement to stop Taiji’s round-up have appeared on national news television outlets, spreading the word about what’s truly happening in the cove and its connection to the world beyond its rugged coastline.
Capt. Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, appeared on CBS Evening News and drove home this essential connection: “The only reason that this dolphin drive is really happening in Taiji is because of the demand from aquariums from around the world. It’s really dolphin enslavement … just for the amusement of people.”
Louie Psihoyos, director of “The Cove” and executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society, who appeared on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper echoed Watson’s statement through this concise, yet powerful analysis: “What you’re actually watching when you see a dolphin show is a spectacle of dominance; you’re not seeing education as SeaWorld would have you claim.”
Actress Kristie Alley expressed similar feelings in a recent Tweet by urging the public to vow off dolphin performances in order to help end the slaughter and capture of Taiji’s dolphins:
Another celebrity, artist and activist Yoko Ono, also came out in protest of the slaughter with an open letter addressed to the Japanese Prime Minister and the fishermen of Taiji.
She starts her letter out by saying that she understands “how [they] must feel about the one-side-ness of the West to be angry at [their] traditional capture and slaughter of Dolphins,” and then goes on and asks them to consider the “big picture” and see that “[Japan] need[s] the sympathy and help of the rest of the world” otherwise the continued slaughter “will give an excuse for big countries and their children in China, India and Russia to speak ill of Japan when we should be communicating our strong love for peace, not violence.”
Much like Ono, English business magnate and founder of Virgin Group, has called on Japan to “stop the dolphin slaughter before it’s too late” in a new blog post.
He writes, “I love Japan. It’s therefore just so sad to see the international damage that is being done to both the country and its people with the mass slaughter of dolphins … however, the tide of public opinion on whale and dolphin hunting may be changing in Japan … [and] hopefully pressure from young people in Japan will stop the slaughter of two of the most beautiful species in the ocean, the dolphin and the whale.”
What’s more, just three days ago, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy also took to the web to express her disgust for Taiji’s dolphin hunt:
Even the hacktivist (hacker-activist) group Anonymous, who broke into a number of Japanese government websites early last year in protest of the Taiji slaughter, has come back, as promised, and temporarily shut down another Japanese government website:
The group vows to continue monitoring the issue and to return again in a month if the Japanese government does not listen to the world and stop the slaughter:
All of these expressions of outrage are only a fraction of the protests out there now, yet they succinctly illustrate just how angry the world is at Japan’s insistence on continuing the country’s dolphin round-up “tradition.”
What these vocal statements also highlight is the fact that the world cannot unsee the disturbing footage of stressed dolphins struggling to free themselves from fishermen’s nets, and that the world will never be able to ignore this injustice from now on.
Japan: All eyes are on you, and what we all want to know is how much longer will you allow this cruelty to go on?
Image source: Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians / Facebook