Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Japanese Partners' Heartfelt Support for Dolphins

by Ric O'Barry
Campaign Director
Save Japan Dolphins
Earth Island Institute

We know what is bad about the dolphin killing going on in Japan. But today, we heard a lot about the good side. Here in Tokyo with our Save Japan Dolphins Team and 70 volunteers from the US, England, Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan, and Australia, we met this evening with our partners in Japan. And we were overwhelmed by their love of dolphins and their concern for protection of dolphins.

Our volunteers are here to represent the 1.7 million people around the world, including from Japan, who have signed our online petitions to save the dolphins. It is a message we heard loud and clear in Tokyo.

One of our keynote speakers was my friend and colleague, Masato Sakano of Circlet, Japan's leading film expert on dolphins and whales. He was also a key production person on our "Blood Dolphin$" TV series shoot in Japan. He showed us some beautiful underwater footage of swimming with wild dolphins in Japan's waters, just a short distance from Tokyo. He encouraged us all to go dolphin-watching while we are here in Japan. Masato-san said, "When we capture dolphins, we deprive them of two important things. One is their family. The other is their sense of hearing." I could not have said it better myself. We owe a great deal to the people of Japan like Masato, who treasure dolphins and whales as much as we do. He has worked hard for many years under very difficult conditions to document and publicize the plight of dolphins here.

Also attending was my new friend Mr. Kunio Suzuki, who is a leader of the conservative movement in Japan. He was one of the first people in Japan to speak out against those who criticized "The Cove" movie without first seeing it. He spoke to us tonight about Japanese culture -- if killing dolphins in Taiji is part of Japanese culture, how come he knew nothing about it? He thanked me and "The Cove" for bringing this important issue to the attention of the people of Japan. I responded by stating that if Mr. Suzuki and I can reach common ground on this issue, then there is truly hope for the dolphins.

Today was the first day of the dolphin hunting season in Taiji. We understand the boats went out, but were unable to see any dolphins to drive into the Cove. Over the next six months, the dolphin hunts may go on, but we will not rest -- Japanese and Westerners alike -- until the dolphin hunts end once and for all.

Thank you, one and all, for being a part of this effort. Special thanks to our many supporters who left behind their lives, their loved ones, and spent their own money to join me in Tokyo on behalf of the dolphins. They are very special people!

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