A local fishing official from the coastal town of Taiji in Japan defended their dolphin hunt tradition and said US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy should go there to witness the “humane” killing herself. The statement came after envoy Kennedy criticized the small town’s custom in a post to Twitter recently.
The town of Taiji is known for its tradition of dolphin hunting during the months of September to April. It shot to infamy with the Academy Award winning documentary, “The Cove,” which depicted graphically a dolphin hunt. The town earned a lot of criticism from foreign conservation groups after the film was shown. Kennedy took to micro-blogging site Twitter last week to express her concern over the custom, saying that she is “deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries.” The local official, who refused to give his name, explained the importance of the hunt to their town. He said that being a small town, there is no other “major industry” for Taiji except dolphin hunting. He also invited Kennedy to visit “so she can understand how we make a living from it.” Further saying that, “many fishermen make a living from the hunting, and many others also earn their living by working at food processing factories.”
Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries.
— キャロライン・ケネディ駐日米国大使 (@CarolineKennedy) January 18, 2014
While the documentary “The Cove” depicted a dolphin kill as bloody, the official from Taiji said that current process of killing the dolphins have been changed so that not much blood will be shed. He said that they have now “switched to a more humane way of butchering them,” describing the process which begins when “they cut the spinal cord” so the dolphins don’t bleed. Conservation group Sea Shepherd, which has been monitoring the cull and streaming live footage of it, said that plenty of blood could be seen. A post on Twitter by @CoveGuardians said, ‘Water of the cove continues to run red with the blood of innocent Bottlenose dolphins who have been murdered,” in apparent contradiction to what the fishing official said.
Even Yoko Ono, widow of Beatles member John Lennon, wrote an open letter condemning the custom and the negative publicity it is giving Japan. Local officials however, called out the critics for hypocrisy. Wakayama governor Toshinobu Nisaka said, “We take away lives of animals like cows and pigs daily. I don’t think it is logical to say that it is only cruel to eat dolphin meat.” Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga vowed to explain Japan’s position on dolphin hunting to Washington.