Intriguing development, Green Monsters! Japan Times has just become the first major Japanese news outlet to condemn the cruelty of the annual Taiji dolphin hunt.

In response to the international outcry over the cruelty of the annual Taiji dolphin hunt, Japanese government officials have been quick to defend it by using the predictable excuse of “tradition.”

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However, Japan Times has slammed this excuse by saying, in a recent editorial: “Their argument that the force of tradition justifies the herding, capturing and slaughtering of dolphins is a flimsy one. Many past cultural practise, such as slavery, bordellos and beheading were stopped for ethical reasons. Tradition and culture are forces that change in accordance with new scientific understanding and evolving ethical standards.”

This statement will ring true with many Green Monsters out there who have often heard others rationalize that all kinds of cruel and barbaric abuses against animals should be maintained, because the human consumption of animal flesh, for example, is “traditional.”

Japan Times also points out that because the Taiji dolphin hunt was only formally institutionalized in 1969, Japanese officials’ claim that it is a “traditional practice” is a flimsy one. They say: “Japan has another tradition, one of deep respect for nature and the creatures in it. That tradition would be much easier to defend. The dolphin hunt is an inhumane practice that should be stopped.”

The editorial, entitled “Defend dolphins, not a ‘tradition’,” is remarkable because, in spite of all the international coverage the Taiji hunt has received lately, this is the first time that a major Japanese news source has addressed the issue.

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Martin Fackler, Tokyo bureau chief of the New York Times, states that this is due to the fact that Japanese journalism does “not tend to view something as a story unless the government or some other official actor is responding to it. In other words, authorities in action constitute a story, but an unaddressed problem doe snot. So, so long as the Japanese government or some other official group (like the national fisheries co-op) does not take action against the Taiji hunt, it is not newsworthy.”

However, it looks like this is about to change, and Japanese media are finally beginning to examine the ethics and reasoning behind the Taiji hunt. Let’s hope awareness of this issue grows ever stronger, and that the Japanese authorities will no longer be able to ignore the outrage of its own people.