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October 8, 2010

Report from Taiji: October 8

another fence destroyed by the waves
another fence destroyed by the waves

Today was one of those beautiful days in Taiji.  The waves were rough and the wind was blowing.  The dolphin hunters stayed snug in their harbor.  This is also the day the dolphin hunters, whale killers, and fishermen were preparing for their annual autumn festival.  I am told there will be a big event tomorrow night where the whalers visit a shrine to their tradition.  Many fishing boats, including dolphin-hunting boats, are flying bright flags.

All of this pageantry stands in contrast to the reality of the dolphin hunt and slaughter that occurs here.  The dolphin hunters/killers shroud their deeds in plastic tarps and hide their atrocities in the shielded killing cove.  Why is this?  If they are so proud of their so-called tradition and culture of killing the dolphins, then why hide it from view?  They make a nice and pretty fantasy presentation of their killing during this festival, yet in reality they slink and hide because they know that the world calls their acts shameful.  They must agree with us that it is shameful or they would not hide it.

In the midst of all this flag waving and smiling children, the newly captive dolphins thrash about in small net pens awaiting their disposition to dolphin shows and swim with dolphin programs.  There is really something wrong with this picture.

Many Japanese journalists have asked us if we have talked with the fishermen.  Perhaps, they say, we would want to hear their side of the story.  To date, the fishermen have not seemed very interested in talking with us, but because Steven and Yoshiko (who both speak Japanese) were here today this seemed like a good time to have a conversation.  Elora wanted to speak with the head of the fishermen’s union and because she is a girl and this is the beginning of the festival weekend we thought the man would be willing to begin a dialogue.

 

Elora in the Union lot
Elora in the Union lot

Boy were we wrong.  Elora, Steven, and Yoshiko found the man in the union parking lot and he immediately went off like a firecracker. I think our continued presence and daily reporting must be getting to them.  There was certainly a lot of yelling and gesturing on his part, yet the three of our folks remained calm and peaceful.  Other fishermen, including the famous movie star Private Space, joined in the excitement.  I had deliberately stayed across the street to minimize their agitation, but I began to see the possibility that my daughter could be in danger so I joined them in the lot.  It became more intense so I removed her from the scene and we watched from across the street.  Steven and Yoshiko stayed right there and continued to talk.  It was interesting that for a man who kept claiming he did not want to talk, he sure talked a lot to them.  From start to finish, it lasted 70 minutes only ending when the police arrived.  I was very impressed at how well Steven and Yoshiko de-escalated the situation, yet did not back down.  If only more Japanese citizens would come to Taiji to tell the fishermen that the time of killing dolphins is over.

 

Because of the festival and forecast for more “good” weather here, we do not expect to see the dolphin hunters in action again until Monday.  We will be watching though, just in case they decide to sneak on out there anyway.

Junior Montgomery from London, England joined us late this evening.  He will be a Cove Guardian for the next week.  We had to say goodbye to Yoshiko this afternoon.

We need your help.  Spread the word, send donations, join in the international day of protest, and avoid all travel to Japan except to become a Cove Guardian with us here in Taiji.  To join us (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk) in Taiji, write to me at inform-us@seashepherd.org.  I will get back to you, but please be patient.  I cannot keep an eye on the Cove and answer email at the same time.

Click here to learn more about the international day of protest on October 14, 2010.

Follow my daughter’s blog of these events.

John and Jackie have begun a blog about their experience here.

Tarah Millen will be joining us here in November.  She has started a blog about her endeavor.

Carolyn has also made a commitment to join us in late November and she too has started a blog about her journey.

For the Oceans,

Scott West
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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