A political tsunami is brewing between the Japanese government and animal rights activists over Japan’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Representatives of the IOC will be in Tokyo on March 4, 2013 and animal rights activists plan to petition the International Olympic Committee to reject Japan as a potential host nation until the country bans the gruesome annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins by the fishermen of Taiji.
“We respectfully ask that you do NOT consider Japan’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid, until the Japanese Government agrees to end the brutal Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt, by making it illegal to hunt Dolphins in Japan. If Tokyo wants the honour of being an Olympic Host City, Japan must be held accountable for allowing fishermen in Taiji to continue this unnecessary annual dolphin hunt in the name of tradition. Since 2009 there has been a worldwide outcry condemning this barbaric and outdated hunt. Still, in 2013, Japan refuses to address and discontinue this annual slaughter. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) cannot ignore this.”
Japan is one of the leading killers of whales and dolphins on the planet. Numerous nations and wildlife organizations have spent years pleading with the Japanese government to permanently ban whaling and outlaw the Taiji dolphin slaughter, but Japan remains unwilling to comply. Almost 2000 wild dolphins are legally slaughtered in an annual orgy of violence that literally turns Taiji Bay red with blood and protesters are convinced losing an opportunity to host the Summer Olympics may finally force the Japanese government to end the dolphin hunt.
International groups have offered to redevelop the scenic village of Taiji into a world heritage site for dolphin and whale watching. Several wildlife organizations volunteered to raise funds to replace the income the villagers would lose if they stop slaughtering the dolphins. Every single offer or solution has been rejected, with villagers claiming their ancient traditions will be lost if they abandon the killing of dolphins.
Dolphin drives are among the most terrifying, inhumane, and brutal methods to kill intelligent marine mammals ever devised. The participants go out into the ocean with a fleet of small boats, and whenever a suitable pod of dolphins is spotted, they lower a steel pipe into the water. The pipe is struck repeatedly with mallets, which panics the dolphins and disrupts their sensitive sonar.
As the dolphins attempt to flee in confusion, the fishermen herd them into the shallow bay and cut off their escape with nets and barricades. After quickly selecting a few prime specimens to be sold to marine exhibits around the world, the remaining victims are mercilessly murdered by driving a metal pin into the cervical region of the dolphin, severing the brain-stem. Although the Japanese government claims this method is instantly fatal, observers of the slaughter reported that many of the dolphins took up to seven minutes to die in thrashing, screaming agony.
This inexcusable slaughter of a highly intelligent mammal, with a brain larger than the brain of a human being, was first brought to the attention of the world in 2009 by the Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove. The Japanese government and the residents of Taiji did everything they could to prevent the film from being made, and afterwards, lied repeatedly about the intentions of the filmmakers.
Following the world wide backlash over the film, the kill zone in Taiji was covered with tarpaulins to prevent any outsiders from being able to witness the murder of these amazing creatures. But no matter how many yards of canvas are rolled out over the bay, it is impossible to disguise the screams of pain and terror from hundreds of dolphins as they are being hacked to death.
The residents of Taiji have long claimed this is a matter of culture and tradition. This excuse has allowed the dolphin drive to continue year after year, in spite of the pleas of concerned citizens around the world. Dolphins are highly social, intelligent creatures that deserve to live free in the world’s oceans without fear of predation by Homo Sapiens. To allow this slaughter to continue, and reward Japan by allowing them to host an Olympic games, is simply unacceptable.