Taiji in the Prefecture of Wakayama is known in Japan as one of the most famous whaling towns in the country. But recent events may just give Taiji a new distinction, that of a discriminating town. An Australian woman has just filed a lawsuit against the town for denying her and a companion entry to the local whale museum.
The complaint filed by the woman to the Wakayama District Court noted that she and a friend went to the Taiji Whale Museum on February 9 but was denied entry. They were also given a piece of paper with words written in Japanese and English stating, “Those who object to commercial whaling are not admitted to the museum.” The woman is part of a conservationist group that opposes whale hunts conducted annually by the town. The plaintiffs are suing for damages of ¥6.7 million ($65,700) in light of a violation to the Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution that outlaws discrimination according to race or ethnicity. The museum’s head was quick to counter the charges filed by the woman. Museum director Katsuki Hayashi said the museum had no intention to discriminate. He did, however, admit to a ban imposed by the museum to those who oppose the hunts. Hayashi said the ban is only implemented from September 2013 until February 2014 to protect the locals who hunt whales, from foreigners who rally against it. “I did it to protect the town’s culture, properties and fishing industry,” he added.
But the complaint filed did not stop with just the accusation of discrimination. It also called on a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution on freedom of thought and conscience. The plaintiff believes that denying a person entry to public facilities and establishments directly violates that article. The woman went to the museum with the cast of the Academy Award-winning documentary, “The Cove,” which features the brutal culling of dolphins by the locals.
[via The Asahi Shimbun]
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