How to protest the Taiji dolphin killing by Ric O’Barry, One Voice/France
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2005:
In response to our call for October 8 to be an international
day of protest at Japanese consulates and embassies against the Taiji
dolphin slaughters, we have received much correspondence suggesting
that we should either hit Japan with an all-out boycott, or just
meet quietly with Japanese officials.
Both approaches have already been repeatedly attempted, and
both were big mistakes.
Having witnessed the dolphin slaughters myself, I can report
with absolute certainty that the Japanese people are not guilty of
these crimes against nature. I saw only 26 whalers in 13 boats drive
dolphins into a cove and slaughter them. The vast majority of the
people in Taiji and surrounding villages were exceptionally friendly
toward our small group of protesters, and should not be targeted and
punished for something they are not guilty of.
The Japanese people don’t need a boycott. They need the
information that we take for granted. If they knew the truth about
the dolphin slaughter, they would help us to stop it.
The fishers who hunt and kill dolphins in Taiji agree with
us. They revealed this to us at a meeting we had with them at Taiji
City Hall. When they asked us why we had come to Taiji, we told
them we wanted to document the methods used to conduct the dolphin
massacres and let the Japanese people know the truth about
their hunt. The fishers reply was, “The Japanese people have no
right to know about the dolphin slaughter. It is none of their
The fishermen in Taiji spend much of their time hiding their
activities. They erect a roof of blue tarpaulin over the lagoon in
which the dolphins are killed, for example, to avoid being
photographed while killing dolphins. They know that if the images
reach the Japanese public, their days as dolphin hunters are
For that very reason, we will continue to travel to the
remote Taiji fishing villages to document what is going on.
Boycotting Japan was the chosen strategy of most of the
well-funded US animal welfare/environmental groups who pooled their
money in 1975-1976 and took out full page advertisements in leading
newspapers to promote their campaign. This misguided effort did not
save any whales, but some Japanese/American children were beaten up
on U.S. playgrounds and called “Jap whale killers.”
Surely, this is not a situation that we want to repeat.
I spent most of 1975-76 traveling from Coconut Grove,
Florida, to several cities in the U.S., and eventually Japan, with
scores of Japanese and American musicians and environmentalists,
including Fred Neil, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Shigado
Izumia, Warren Zevon, Harry Hossano, John Sebastian, former
California governor Jerry Brown, the Paul Winter Consort, and a
great many other concerned artists.
Known as “The Rolling Coconut Review,” we tried to put a
stop to the boycott, and eventually succeeded, but not before the
“Boycott Japan!” rhetoric had given the entire Japanese whaling
industry the opportunity to pretend that western opposition to
whaling was based on racism. Japanese opposition to whaling,
already rising then, has struggled against that stereotype for 30
It is the Japanese people who can stop the dolphin massacres.
In order to make this happen, we need to build bridges, not burn
But building bridges requires working outdoors, in plain sight.
We have already tried quiet meetings with Japanese officials,
in Paris, London, Brussels, Miami, Bern, Seattle, Vancouver,
New York, Washington D.C., and just about every other location
where a Japanese embassy or consulate office exists. During these
closed-door meetings, we were made to feel comfortable, even
welcomed. We were served tea and coffee and everyone was cordial.
We even bowed to each other as a sign of mutual respect. We filed
our usual complaint, the meeting was adjourned, we bowed again,
and the door closed behind us as we left the building.
Nothing changed for the dolphins.
In Taiji, the dolphin slaughter started on October 1, as it
does most years. The killings continued through April, and 20,000
dolphins were killed with little public outcry.
We should have known all along that the only way to stop this
madness is to expose it to the world.
What goes on in Taiji will forever play in the minds of those
who have seen it. The smell of death and fear lingers, the
dolphins’ cries never go away, and neither does the sound of the
fishers banging metal poles to drive them into the shallows, where
they cannot escape.
We who tried to stop the killing through diplomatic meetings
behind closed doors–and I was one of them–failed miserably. The
Taiji dolphin slaughter takes place so far away that it is invisible
and silent to the diplomats. Even if they privately deplore it,
ending it has no urgency for them.
What we need to do on October 8 is show the Japanese people
exactly what goes on in Taiji. We need to do it in a way that gives
strength to Japanese opponents of the dolphin massacres, who are
just beginning to recover from the previous “Boycott Japan!” fiasco.
We need to be friendly, respectful, and visible.
For details on the Japan Dolphin Day demo: