A new focus for dolphin activists visiting Japan

Like many Japanese activists, seeing the Academy-winning documentary “The Cove” was, for me, a wake-up call to the horrible problem of the dolphin drive hunt in Japan. Until then, we Japanese knew little more than the rest of the world about what went on in that cove in Hatajiri Bay. In this regard, we are deeply grateful to, and hold in high respect, Ric O’Barry and the other activists who created the movie.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Tokyo-based group “Action for Marine Mammals” owes its foundation to the enlightenment that their activism brought us.

Currently our work centers on opposing the dolphin drive hunts, ending whaling in the Southern Ocean and saving captive marine mammals forced to perform for entertainment. One fundamental difference between the situation in Tokyo and that in Taiji is that Japanese activists are working independently to end the dolphin drive hunt.

It goes without saying that the center of dolphin drive hunting is Taiji in Wakayama. However, regardless of how closely the activity in this remote village is monitored, the situation remains unchanged. For foreigners to lecture the fishermen on the inhumanity of the hunt is meaningless. While there is demand (dolphin shows), there will also be a supply (drive hunts). While they have permission to kill some, they will continue to eat dolphin meat. The source of that permission is the government in Tokyo. If there is no change in Tokyo, there will be no change in Taiji. If we cannot reform the center of the nation, awareness and institutions in the provinces will not change either. Sad to say, that’s what kind of country Japan is these days.


There is something I’d like to say to the Cove Monitors of SJD, the Cove Guardians of SSCS and other such organizations active in Taiji. It is not seen as normal, legitimate or even acceptable for overseas activist groups to operate in this remote corner of Japan as if it were their own backyard. The current presence and activities of monitors do nothing but contribute to anti-Japanese prejudice, discrimination and hatred. This is neither necessary nor even useful. If you think you are supporting Japanese activists, you are gravely mistaken. Some of your efforts have already been interpreted as an attempt to create an apparently Japanese puppet organization.

If you were to view the problem from the other side you would easily understand why the people of Taiji have so far resisted your efforts. Isn’t it time to give serious thought to the sad situation that the efforts of overseas activist organizations in Taiji are having the reverse effect?


Instead of hiding your light in this remote corner, why not come to Tokyo and boldly address the government in Kasumigaseki? How about protesting the dolphinariums that are the root of the problem? Why not enlighten the general Japanese public to the problem? There are other places to go and work to be done. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that the root of the crime is not the same as the scene of the crime.


In fact, there is nothing left to do at the cove in Taiji that requires overseas activists. I beg you to leave Taiji. If you wish to save the dolphins of Japan, I hope you will cross the fences between organizations and the walls between nations, and combine your efforts with those of Japanese activists here in Tokyo. Together we can change Japan.


Action for Marine Mammals representative, Toshiaki Morioka