In the early morning hours of Sunday, January 25, 2004, the cold-hearted and cowardly butchers of Taiji, Japan killed between seven and ten Pseudo Orca Whales. No mercy was given to the two newborns of the pod.
And why would these whalers extend any sort of compassion to the lives they see as nothing more than profit? They don't. Such a lack of any morsel of compassion is clearly evidenced by the fact that as this pod was being hacked to pieces and thoughtlessly tossed into piles, across the harbor once wild and majestic dolphins float listlessly in tight confinement awaiting their final journey to a life of captivity in Hong Kong aquariums.
Any human with something remotely resembling a conscience who has looked into the inquisitive and self-aware eyes of a dolphin or whale could never unleash such mind-numbing violence on these beings.
But in Taiji, Japan we will find no compassion, no empathy, no pause for consideration of the lives that are callously wiped from the face of this planet. For a bloody business that exists solely for profit, we will find only the profiteers' lies and excuses that seek to beguile the uninformed public and media.
In October of 2003 when our Sea Shepherd crew first arrived in Taiji, we exposed the bloody "dolphin drives" internationally and brought fierce opposition to the hunts that had never before been experienced by the town.
We were initially told by the whalers and their supporters that the kills were nothing more than business-that we were being sentimental. It was stated over and over again that the drives were necessary for the economy and that we were seeking to drive the town into poverty. This argument held no weight and garnered the whalers no sympathy.
As a result, with the next kill and subsequent wave of international media attention, the whalers altered their game and began running the rhetoric that the "dolphin drives" were an intrinsic part of Taiji's tradition and culture. They began claiming historical privilege and erroneously asserting that they'd been 'collecting' dolphins for thousands upon thousands of years in Taiji.
Our field crew leader provided evidence to the contrary, and overnight, the history of Taiji's "dolphin drives" changed from thousands of years to a couple hundred.
Today, the rhetoric that is spewing out of Taiji is one that is heard around the world in every conflict between ocean conservationists and those who profit from the pillaging of the oceans. The opportunistic killers of Taiji, whom we've caught dumping their trash and oil into the coastal waters, now assert that they are the stewards of the oceans, charged with managing marine resources by the Japanese government.
If it weren't for the fact that these men routinely slaughter thousands of dolphins and whales every year, many of who are newborns, this ridiculous assertion would be wholly laughable. But somehow, straight-faced, representatives of Taiji's whaling cooperative now claim that they make little money off of the "dolphin drives" and are instead paid by the Japanese government to serve as an oceanic "pest control" agency.*
In a conversation yesterday with One Voice campaigner Ric O'Barry, the whalers asserted that they kill dolphins for neither money nor culture, but for the health of the oceans and to preserve declining fish populations as requested by the government.
O'Barry offered to pay the whalers whatever they make in a season if they would only refrain from killing next year... they promptly declined the offer. Apparently in the last two months their duty has shifted from making money to preserving their culture and now to preserving fish populations. Just how killing infants, the next generation of whales and dolphins, maintains the health of the oceans remains to be seen.
The only thing that should be plainly clear is that the dolphin-killers of Taiji have no sound rationalization for what goes on in that town. They are merely seeking justification for a practice that has no justification in the 21st century.
Call the Wakayama Prefecture Government and the Cooperative in Taiji and tell them you don't buy the lie!
The dolphin round-up in Taiji is conducted by Taiji Fishery Cooperative and is granted by the governor of Wakayama prefecture.
- Taiji Fishery Cooperative
Wakayama, 649-5171 Japan
Tel: +81.735.59.3517 Fax: +81 735 59 3018
- Mr. Yoshiki Kimura, the governor of Wakayama
Prefectural Office of Wakayama
1-1 Komatsubaradouri, Wakayama-shi
Wakayama-ken, 640-8269 Japan
Tel: +81-73-441-2034 Fax:+81-73-423-9500
* This is essentially the same defense raised by the Newfoundland sealers for their practice of bludgeoning harp seal pups. Ironically, both the local police and Taiji whaling cooperative regularly monitor the SSCS website and upcoming campaigns; one of which happens to be the seal campaign. While in Taiji, our crew found it odd that the police and whalers would be keeping files about the seal campaign; coincidentally or not, we now find the same defense of declining fish stocks being used in Taiji.