It is now early in the morning of March 13 in Taiji and things are calm. No one was arrested and that is the problem. Yesterday’s events would not be believable if they were to appear in a screenplay. An angry mob of delusional delinquents managed to humble the police and control the situation.
The irony is not lost here. We do appreciate that the police put themselves in jeopardy to protect the Cove Guardians. The five Cove Guardians involved are particularly grateful. Cove Guardians are not the most likeable folks in Taiji, but the police do have the duty to enforce laws and keep the peace even if they find it disagreeable and dangerous.
We do not cry foul at the nationalists’ outburst. Yes, their actions are unlawful and violent and we do not condone them. We do appreciate the fact that their violent, frantic, and rabid behavior proves to us that Sea Shepherd’s tactics in Taiji and in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary are making an impact. Not only are we reducing the number of whales and dolphins being killed, we are successfully exposing the shame of the Japanese government’s support of such atrocities. The nationalists are reacting to their shame.
The Japanese nationalists are racist thugs in the purest sense. Folks like to accuse the Cove Guardians of being racist, but it is simply not true. The Japanese authorities’ failure to arrest the violent nationalists indicates the government’s support of racism.
Another example is of course the saga of Erwin Vermeulen. He is a Dutch national who was arrested in Taiji, without evidence, for allegedly pushing someone. Erwin spent 64 days in jail and had to defend himself in a Japanese courtroom. His alleged act was nowhere near as violent and aggressive as the acts exhibited yesterday (captured on film) by the nationalists towards the Cove Guardians.
Cove Guardians have indeed photographed dolphin killers and have made them uncomfortable in the process. Cove Guardians do not rush at or spit upon dolphin killers. We do not threaten harm to the killers.
We understand that the nationalists who were filmed chasing the police and Cove Guardians to the police station in Kushimoto were given a “stern talking to” by the police and then told to go home. No arrests were made. More volunteers will join the ranks of the Cove Guardians because of this police failure just as the police failure to properly investigate the allegations against Erwin brought more volunteers to Taiji.
The failure by the police to arrest any of these violent nationalists can only embolden them and their ilk. We can expect to see more violence directed towards the Cove Guardians. If anyone is injured, the responsibility rests with the authorities failure to address the criminal behavior of the nationalists.
We know that documenting the atrocities committed against dolphins in Taiji is not without peril. Serving as a Cove Guardian comes with a financial and emotional price. We have seen that we could be arrested and held without merit. We now have seen that violence can be directed our way. We know that the law is applied unevenly even when violence is afoot. But we are not leaving until the slaughter has ended for good.
If someone wants to volunteer as crew on a Sea Shepherd campaign in Antarctica, that person has to be prepared to die for a whale. It now appears that Cove Guardians must be willing to risk their lives for a dolphin.
If you are interested in joining the Cove Guardians, write to me at [email protected].
Cove Guardian Campaign Coordinator
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society