Friday, October 15, 2010

A First: Japan Dolphin Day in Tokyo

By Kyoko Tanaka
Tokyo, Japan

In Tokyo, my colleague Tosh and I visited Nagata-cho, the national government office area in Tokyo, Japan, to submit petitions to the Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. In a short time, we collected 163 people's names. The important thing is that 150 of them are from the Wakayama region, which includes the town of Taiji. One Wakayama local is helping us. He will hand in this petition to the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture later this week. (The Governor approves local dolphin catching permits for Taiji.)

After we handed in our petition to the Japan Fisheries Agency, Tosh and I were curious to check with the Whaling Department to ask the number for dolphins captured in Taiji this year. As soon as I said the word "Taiji", the whole floor's atmosphere changed immediately.

We were soon escorted to a guest room. We had intended to ask question casually – Tosh and I have been gathering information on the numbers of dolphins involved in the drive hunts – but the staff prepared thick books of records and all the research papers.

One person showed up whose name was Mr. Takaya -- he is the successor of Mr. Moronuki of the Fisheries Agency. He questioned us about why dolphins are so special, and started in again on the cows and pigs issue...sigh...(I have heard this argument a zillion times already...).

But we had a good discussion with him for about an hour. We were surprised how much time he spent with us despite that fact that we did not make any appointment.

Although the Fisheries Agency people have so much knowledge, their stance is strictly pro-whale hunting. They have already decided their stance.

Kyoko (Kiki) Tanaka hands in her petition to save Japan dolphins to the Cabinet Office for the government of Japan in Tokyo, Oct. 14, 2010.
Photo by Tosh.

The only thing we can do is to educate people who have the potential to understand. Mr. Takaya said if there is no demand for dolphin meat, then the dolphin hunt will go extinct.

To see that come true, we have to keep educating people here in Japan and around the world.

Ric O’Barry Comments:

This is great work by Kiki (as we know Kyoko), Tosh and her friends in Japan. This could be the start of a grass-roots movement in Japan!

We do not have to persuade government officials or anybody else. The cow and pig/cultural argument is a non-starter. It's a diversion from the one and only issue: The scientific FACT that the dolphin meat is contaminated and not fit for consumption cancels out all excuses for killing dolphins and other whales for their meat.

The meat is poison and it's being sold to Japanese people. End of argument.

Kiki has been a great help to our campaign in Japan for some time, often keeping a low profile but being very industrious. Her insights into Japanese culture have been extremely useful, and we consider her a good friend.

We are proud of Kiki and the many Japanese people who are willing to oppose the dolphin slaughter under very difficult conditions.

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