Friday, September 25, 2009

First Time: Media in Japan See “The Cove”

By Richard O’Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

There was standing room only tonight at the screening of “The Cove” movie, the first public showing in Japan!

Our team of folks working in Japan on this issue did a tremendous job pulling together an excellent program. We had more than 250 journalists from Japan and around the world, plus many Japanese non-governmental organization representatives there as well. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in downtown Tokyo had to open up a second room in their library to accommodate the overflow crowd.

I stood and watched as the crowd was rapt during the screening. There were chuckles at the jokes, and the Japanese subtitles, supplied by the efforts of Louie Psihoyos and the Oceanic Preservation Society, were first rate.

And of course, many were stunned by the footage of the actual dolphin killing. Afterwards, I received a very warm round of applause.

I then officiated at a ceremony giving a plaque to Mr. Junichiro Yamashita, who was the real hero of “The Cove” movie. He stopped the serving of poisoned dolphin meat in Taiji, and for that the community has shunned him. But one day, Japan will recognize his brave efforts in speaking out against the serving of contaminated dolphin meat. People from around the world at screenings of “The Cove” have told me how much they admire his efforts, and so his award came from the people of the world.

I answered many questions there this evening about the dolphin hunts and mercury contamination, and I feel very very good about the event.

Only a couple of years ago, I went around to major news media in Tokyo with my Japanese friends, pleading with reporters to cover the story of the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Many reporters told us that they thought it was a very interesting story, but they knew their editors would not run the story. They did not want to upset the Japanese government, and so the media colluded with the government to hide the dolphin slaughter and the dangers of mercury-contaminated dolphin meat.

Only the Japan Times has written stories about mercury in dolphin meat, and I publicly thanked them, while urging other media representatives there to test dolphin and whale meat themselves (as the Japan Times has done).

Someone asked me whether I thought the people of Taiji would continue releasing dolphins. I answered that dolphins are still be slaughtered in Taiji. Many pilot whales were slaughtered just in this past week – as many as 40. The fishermen are trying to dodge the issue by calling the pilot whales “whales” instead of “dolphins.” But, I noted, pilot whale meat has even higher levels of mercury than the other dolphins. Of course, pilot whales are dolphins – the Taiji hunt kills no real whales.

But I think the days of this story being buried are numbered. Because of the work of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition, “The Cove” movie was made. Because of “The Cove” movie, millions are learning about the tragedy in Taiji. And now the Japanese people are going to learn the truth.
Tomorrow, we head to Taiji with several team members of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition. We will be traveling with representatives of 60 Minutes Australia and Sky TV.

You can support my efforts and the efforts of the Save Japan Dolphins Team here in Japan by going to:

Click Here to Donate

Your support helps drive this campaign. We could not get where we are without your support! We are, I think, closing in on stopping the dolphin hunt. But we have a ways to go yet.

Ric O’Barry returns to Japan.
Photo copyright Mark J. Palmer

Ric O’Barry answers questions about the dolphin slaughter at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
Photo copyright Mark J. Palmer

Ric O’Barry holds up frozen pilot whale meat from Taiji while answering questions about “The Cove” movie at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
Photo copyright Mark J. Palmer

Ric O’Barry addresses the crowd in Tokyo.
Photo copyright Mark J. Palmer

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