Yoko Ono, Watson add voices to anti-dolphin hunt

TOKYO —

The Japanese widow of John Lennon on Monday added her voice to pleas to dolphin fishermen that they stop their hunt, days after the U.S. ambassador to Tokyo waded into the row.

Yoko Ono published an open letter to the men of Taiji, the small town made famous by the Oscar-winning film “The Cove” which depicts the annual bloodbath, in which she urged them to halt the cull for the “future of Japan”.

Ono said the hunt, in which scores of animals are corralled into a cove, with the prettiest selected for sale to aquariums and the rest butchered for meat, was damaging the reputation of Japan.

It “will give an excuse for big countries and their children in China, India and Russia to speak ill of Japan,” she wrote.

“I am sure that it is not easy, but please consider the safety of the future of Japan, surrounded by many powerful countries which are always looking for the chance to weaken the power of our country.

“At this very politically sensitive time, the hunt will make the children of the world hate the Japanese.

“For many, many years and decades we have worked hard to receive true understanding of the Japanese from the world,” she said.

“But what we enjoy now, can be destroyed literally in one day. I beg of you to consider our precarious situation after the nuclear disaster (which could very well affect the rest of the world, as well).”

The reference was to the 2011 triple meltdowns at Fukushima after their reactors were swamped by a huge tsunami.

The letter, which was posted on her “Imagine Peace” website and addressed to “Japanese fishermen of Taiji”, bore her signature and was dated 20 January, 2014. At the foot, it said: “cc Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe”.

Ono’s intervention came just days after U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy tweeted her disapproval.

“Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG (US Government) opposes drive hunt fisheries,” wrote Kennedy, the only surviving child of assassinated US President John F Kennedy, on January 17.

Her comments were welcomed on Monday by fugitive eco-activist Paul Watson, who said he hoped it would help convince Tokyo to put a halt to the practice.

“Hopefully this would put additional pressure to convince the Japanese government that this really has no place in the 21st century,” he said.

Watson, who is the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is now in the United States where he arrived last year saying he wanted to challenge a court injunction.

Japanese authorities are seeking his extradition and describe methods used by Watson’s Sea Shepherd group against whaling ships—for example blocking the boats’ propellers—as “terrorist” acts.

Watson was arrested in May last year in Frankfurt on a warrant from Costa Rica, where he is wanted on charges stemming from a high-seas confrontation over shark finning in 2002.

The Canadian-born activist fled from Germany but arrived in California on October 28, more than a year later.

Sea Shepherd says around 250 dolphins have been corralled in the cove so far, and that some have been removed, but it is not clear how many have been killed.

(c) 2014 AFP

  • -12

    Heda_Madness

    So we have someone who is famous for being married to someone else, someone who is called an Eco Terrorist and wanted by Interpol and someone who's uncle supported terrorists.

    Yet it's the Japanese who are morally wrong.

  • 21

    oikawa

    What's morally wrong about having been married to someone famous? Or having had a bad uncle? And how would that be connected to their opinions on dolphin slaughter?

  • 11

    paulinusa

    Their opinion is not worth less because of who they are.

  • 14

    Nessie

    Their opinion is not worth less because of who they are.

    It's not worth more.

  • 21

    cleo

    she has chosen to be public with her criticism of the Japanese

    She has made no criticism of 'the Japanese'. What she has criticised is the barbaric actions of a group of backward villagers.

  • 5

    Novenachama

    Unfortunately since dolphins are considered "small cetaceans" the International Whaling Commission do not agree to protect them to this day and the Japanese Fishing Association and government allows the dolphin drive to be carried out for economic reasons. I do most deeply sympathize with those against this hunt however the Japanese should not be contacted directly in a aggressive manner. A better strategy may be to address this matter from within the country with a carefully balanced approach in a lawful, peaceful, and non-violent way using polish speakers. But educating the Japanese is not easy. I applaud Ms. Ono Yoko for her effort by setting such a fine example.

  • -17

    Hide Suzuki

    As painful as it is to see dolphins being killed, I don't care what Yoko Ono says at all on any topic. And Paul Watson supporting means that we should definitely continue this tradition.

    This d-bag only cares about being famous and some people worshiping him.

  • 8

    cleo

    Paul Watson supporting means that we should definitely continue this tradition

    So if Paul Watson pointed out that it's warm in summer and cold in winter, you'd bundle up in August and strip off in February, just to spite him?

    if we cloud only just all unite and have a better understanding of each other's customs and ways there will be less complication

    Or we could all unite, have a better understanding of how every culture has nasty bits that can and should be changed, and work to change them?

  • 0

    Ranger_Miffy2

    This morning I watched the sad, sad progress of the slaughter under a tent of the dolphins in Taiji Bay. Nothing can hide the blood drenched waters. Live camera coverage: http://livestream.seashepherd.org/

    Why aren't more Japanese out in the trees protesting and recording this? There are alternatives to this slaughter that would provide the Taiji people with an honorable income: whale watching comes to mind.

    I hope this is the last of the annual slaughter-fest. This one has been the biggest on record, apparently. Shame.

  • -8

    JeffLee

    Ultra-nationalist tripe. Ono only cares about "Japan's image" it seems from this article.

    To whit

    "It will give an excuse for big countries and their children in China, India and Russia to speak ill of Japan

    Gimme a break. "An excuse"?! Ono's concerns seem based on the poor Japanese becoming victims of cold inflexible foreigners yet again.

    I've always disliked that woman. Even when she tries to be passionate, there's cold, harsh calculation that can be read between the lines.

    "....surrounded by many powerful countries which are always looking for the chance to weaken the power of our country."

    Oh, gawd.

  • 7

    Disillusioned

    Wooo, Yoko Ono? - I am still amazed by how many Japanese people have no idea this dolphin hunt is going on. I challenge everyone to ask their Japanese colleagues about it today and you'll find that, at least half of the people you mention it to have no idea what you are talking about.

  • -1

    Wolfpack

    I think the dolphin would be better off without Yoko Ono sticking her nose into this issue. She is as polarizing as an American president.

  • 8

    Dennis Bauer

    Woaw, it is about the message not the messenger.

  • 1

    rickyvee

    I challenge everyone to ask their Japanese colleagues about it today and you'll find that, at least half of the people you mention it to have no idea what you are talking about.

    or perhaps they just don't care? it's only the west who care so deeply about dolphins and whales. that's fine and dandy, but why force others to care about them, too?

    regarding ono's comment, people who want to "hate" japan will find another reason even if this hunt is stopped.

  • -5

    tinawatanabe

    It is not a way to change others. Yoko Ono and Ms Kennedy probably never worked in an organization. Merely saying something not only doesn't work but make others offended. You have to talk to them first. But with your attitude of Americans are right Japanese are wrong, nothing will change.

  • 4

    cleo

    your attitude of Americans are right Japanese are wrong

    Many of the people opposed to the bloody slaughter of dolphins are not American, so the first part of your gripe is incorrect.

    No one is saying 'Japanese are wrong', either; we're saying the backward villagers with their bloodlust, their appetite for poison meat, which they also feed to their children and pregnant women, and their desire for bloodstained gelt, are wrong. So the second part of your gripe is also incorrect.

  • 1

    rickyvee

    No one is saying 'Japanese are wrong', either; we're saying the backward villagers with their bloodlust, their appetite for poison meat, which they also feed to their children and pregnant women, and their desire for bloodstained gelt, are wrong

    this doesn't make any sense.

    but let's look at your statement claiming that children and pregnant women are eating poisoned meat. if this is true, are any children or fetuses dying as a result of this? are the higher levels of mercury in the local population causing more diseases or birth defects? your straw man argument does nothing to refute that fact that some people view this hunt as "wrong."

  • 1

    AKBfan

    Ono said the hunt, in which scores of animals are corralled into a cove, with the prettiest selected for sale to aquariums and the rest butchered for meat, was damaging the reputation of Japan.

    i didn't realise there was a selection based on looks. a new level of weird.

  • 0

    Strangerland

    their appetite for poison meat, which they also feed to their children and pregnant women, [is] wrong

    This will balance itself out. If the meat really is poison, the people are going to realize soon enough that eating it is bad for them, and stop. Not that they shouldn't be told, but if people want to focus on change that is going to actually make a difference in the world, then they should take that time and money spent protesting at Taiji, and put it to something useful. Like protesting Fukushima, or shark-finning, or any other number of causes.

    The problem with the Taiji protestors is that the protest they make is in imbalance with the actual wrongs being perpetuated there. So they come off as being vindictive against a small group of people, and their ultimate goal will not have any large impact on the planet as a whole. So people don't take them seriously (just read this thread), and/or question their ulterior motives.

  • 1

    Kobuta Chan

    Ono and Watson! Oh no. Fugitive Watson should go to Germany and give himself up at Police station. Yoko-san should rethink about how she treated her stepson Julian and make up the debt.

    I must say fishermen in Taiji should stop mass killing Dolphins but I won't object if they kill a few Dolphin for annual traditional ritual.

    I love Dolphin but I have no right to say to peoples from Taiji "Stop your bloody annual traditional ritual mass slaughtering Dolphin".

    However, we need to educate young generation from Taiji about mass slaughtering Dolphin and the method their ancestor use to killing Dolphin. So the tradition of Taiji’s annual ritual mass killing of Dolphin will disappear one day. Also we should discuss with older generation about their traditional annual ritual killing of Dolphin in constructive way instead of confrontation. Dolphins and Whales for traditional annual ritual killing are not just peoples from Taiji alone but similar custom has still existing in some parts of the world like the Faroe Islands and other nations. More importantly, Japanese Government needs to talk to local elder fishermen about mass slaughtering Dolphin.

  • 1

    FernandoUchiyama

    I am extremely concerned about this topic. It is becoming news in newspaper and tvs all around the world and hurting Japan's reputation.

    I don't know the motivations of this dolphin hunt because nobody that I know has this explanation. But my point of view is that Japan must think deeply about which option is best.

    • To keep dolphin hunt tradition and badly hurt the country's image.

    • To stop it or at least give the world some explanation why this tradition is good, and what values it adds to the world.

  • -2

    moneyyen

    Does anybody really care what Yoko Ono has to say and/or think?

  • 2

    anbinh

    Its all in her mind . Powerful countries (Russia, China ,India?) are looking for a chance to weaken Japan... but that happens to any country. They are powerful because they have "the bomb" , nothing to do with dolphin hunt in Taiji. In fact, it appears to me that she worries too much the wrong way.

  • -2

    dcog9065

    The key here is to get the Japanese media to pick up the story. Nothing will change if no one here knows about it, just look what happened with that poor Ms. World woman. Attack the Japanese media I say.

  • 4

    gogogo

    I dont agree with Ono much but she's on the money with this.

  • -2

    Disillusioned

    It's pretty sad that the only defence the Japanese have is to point the finger at other countries for completely unrelated indiscretions. I guess they have never heard the phrase 'people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'.

  • -3

    smithinjapan

    Heda_Madness: "Yet it's the Japanese who are morally wrong."

    Obviously not, given that Ono is Japanese. It's always amusing to watch people praise her when she praises Japan and Japanese culture, then bash her as though she is a foreigner when she questions parts of the culture. Good on her, I say. It's kind of a shame Watson had to chime in as it undermined her argument somewhat, even though he is correct, but still.

  • -1

    Asian2013

    This is typical. Go into denial. Paint the messengers as badly as possible. Do anything to deflect the real issue. Japan does not care what others say. Just listen to the mayor of Taiji. Pure disgust.

  • -4

    Bad2Dbone

    I am not pro or against, if they kill the dolphins near their coast, its their cultural right!! the problem is when they go hunting all the way of the other side of the world , for fake research and sell the meat as part of their culture.

    Not the same,that is just wrong !!

  • 1

    bass4funk

    Obviously not, given that Ono is Japanese. It's always amusing to watch people praise her when she praises Japan and Japanese culture, then bash her as though she is a foreigner when she questions parts of the culture. Good on her, I say. It's kind of a shame Watson had to chime in as it undermined her argument somewhat, even though he is correct, but still.

    That's always the conundrum and exactly right, when a famous Japanese speaks out and voices his or her opinion and goes against the grain, they are excoriated. Now she's discredited and is looked down upon as a loon. As a matter of fact, I will bet my last dime that there are more big wig celebs in Japan that think the same way, that this extermination journey is barbaric and cruel, but are sadly afraid to voice their opinion for fearing of being scorned or in the worst case scenario, blacklisted, in a society where being different can get you in some serious trouble.

  • 3

    cleo

    if people want to focus on change that is going to actually make a difference in the world, then they should take that time and money spent protesting at Taiji, and put it to something useful. Like protesting Fukushima, or shark-finning, or any other number of causes

    You think people who protest about the dolphin slaughter don't protest about other things, too?

    we should discuss with older generation about their traditional annual ritual killing of Dolphin

    It isn't traditional (not with motor boats and sales to dolphin shows around the world), it's not annual (it occurs numerous times throughout the year), and it's not ritual (it's just a bloody slaughter of terrified animals). You got one out of four right.

  • -1

    Strangerland

    You think people who protest about the dolphin slaughter don't protest about other things, too?

    I'm sure they do. That's not my point though. If they want to be effective, they would focus on issues that have meaning in the world, not a few fishermen killing a few dolphins in backwoods Japan. Even if they 'win' (whatever that means), the overall impact to the world is practically nil. Dolphins aren't even a threatened species. The degree of protest compared to the impact of the behavior is out of proportion, and it comes off as having ulterior motives, and one can't help but think those are likely ulterior motives based in some sort of racism.

  • 0

    rickyvee

    It isn't traditional

    by very definition (the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way) it is.

    it's not annual

    yes, it is. from wiki: The dolphin drive hunt in Taiji, Japan, takes place every year from September to April. the hunting season occurs only once a year.

    it's just a bloody slaughter of terrified animals

    being a bit anthropomorphic, aren't we. regardless of how much you want to believe it, no one knows what these animals feel or think.

    the real reason why people dislike this practice so much is that the people of taiji don't do it behind closed doors.

  • -3

    CH3CHO

    DisillusionedJan. 21, 2014 - 11:37AM JST

    It's pretty sad that the only defence the Japanese have is to point the finger at other countries for completely unrelated indiscretions. I guess they have never heard the phrase 'people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones'.

    Let me tell you what almost all of the Japanese think about this dolphin hunt issue. They really see not a single valid argument to stop dolphin hunting. Period. They think they even do not need to defend.

    I also see no valid argument to stop dolphin hunting, either, after reading all the comments here. I see argument by some people very hard to understand probably because the argument is emotion based or the argument is based on certain values that is unique to such people. I see that some people love dolphins and want no dolphin killed. But that is something we can agree to disagree.

    The governor of Wakayama Prefecture issues license to the dolphin hunt. Here is the link to the Q&A page on the issue in English. http://www.pref.wakayama.lg.jp/prefg/071500/iruka/dolphin_fishery.html

  • 1

    CGB Spender

    Yoko Ono has as much to do with Japan as a fish with riding a bicycle! She's an amerikajin now. And I beg to differ: Watson is called an Eco Terrier!

  • 2

    Strangerland

    Let me tell you what almost all of the Japanese think about this dolphin hunt issue.

    You mean almost all Japanese who know about the issue. Most Japanese people have no idea that people even eat dolphin, and when they find out, they don't really care. The whole controversy is almost non-existent on the news here. It's essentially a non-issue.

  • -2

    CH3CHO

    StrangerlandJan. 21, 2014 - 01:48PM JST

    The whole controversy is almost non-existent on the news here. It's essentially a non-issue.

    There, you see. Most Japanese see they do not even need to defend their position. It is not an issue. It is due right.

  • -10

    tinawatanabe

    People of Taiji do not have bloodlust. It's very impolite to them.

    There is more important thing than country's image, that is principles.

    Please do not hurt Taiji people's feelings any more. Leave them alone.

  • -2

    zomafumi

    For many, many years and decades we have worked hard to receive true understanding of the Japanese from the world, she said.

    I don't understand what is "true understanding of the Japanese" to her. It should be her personal opinion about ideal image of Japan.

  • 4

    telecasterplayer

    Was this story even covered by the Japanese media? I searched Yoko's kanji and Kana but it doesn't seem like it got a lot of coverage. And it looks like the open letter to the people of Taiji was written in English.

  • 1

    Cricky

    Medieval

  • 1

    Thunderbird2

    As much as I love Japan and the Japanese people I just can't stand this aspect... that and whaling... and zoos...

    This is just disgusting. Dolphins have been shown to be self aware sentient creatures, not mere food for the table, which just doesn't register with some people. They could be as ugly as the blobfish and it wouldn't make a difference - they are thinking, feeling animals.

    This has nothing to do with any anti-Japanese sentiment, it could be happening in the UK, Australia or Russia - wherever, it's just wrong. I despise the killing of ANY cetacean, anywhere in the world.

  • 1

    Qamar

    I don't agree with any hunt that is so cruel, but this news IS damaging Japanese image abroad. Yesterday my blood was pretty much boiling about many comments on a certain newspaper article on fb. The comments from people were totally off, totally blaming ALL of Japan, linking WWII to this and calling for very bad thing, cursing Japan and so on and so forth. If it is economy which you might care about though, some were saying that they won't buy Japanese items and stuff. I know they're "ignorant comments" but you know, people affect people, and Japan's image in certain country is already not too good..this might just add more salt. Every comment added is more people watching the news and a probable damage to reputation. Thumb me down as much as you want, I hate, HATE reading racist comments about any country and I had prejudice against a group of people..it makes my low blood pressure become high blood pressure in an instant.

    • Moderator

      Everybody please calm down and stop getting emotional.

  • -3

    zomafumi

    Just realize that "high intelligence of dolphin" has nothing to do with your anti-dolphin hunting sentiment. You are just facing the cultural difference. That's all.

  • 1

    Jimizo

    Putting those who take part in this 'tradition' on a strict diet of this meat for a few years could be a very practical way of seeing this practice come to an end. Oh, and don't give any of it to kids.

  • 0

    Makoto Nii

    If the real purpose of Yoko Ono's "letter" was wanting it being read by the Japanese fishermen, why is it not in Japanese? She still remembers the language, I hope...

  • -1

    budgie

    dcog9065JAN. 21, 2014 - 11:32AM JST: "The key here is to get the Japanese media to pick up the story. Nothing will change if no one here knows about it, just look what happened with that poor Ms. World woman. Attack the Japanese media I say."

    Problem is the media are in on it. All it takes is for government officials to say that anti-whaling or anti-dolphin hunt sentiment as an 'affront to Japanese culture' and the media jumps on the foreigner-bashing bandwagon. Apparently any travesty can be protected under the banner of 'tradition' and to challenge it becomes a sort of thought crime. The more foreign nations complain, the more public support these corrupt, government subsidized practices can get.

  • 1

    Thunderbird2

    My opposition to this is that I don't believe Cetaceans should be hunted AT ALL, ANYWHERE. I don't care if it's Japanese, Danish, Aussies or Martians doing the killing - I am totally 100% against the killing of dolphins and whales.

  • 0

    kobejim

    Yoko Ono is right, this is a public relations disaster for Japan. As for tradition and culture, slavery was/is a tradition, should we keep it around? Women's rights - in any culture's past, few to none. Children's rights? People not of nobility?

    If any aspect of any peoples culture is abusive, violent, based on inequality and oppression - it has to go. Culture is the total way of life of a group of people, and past cultural practices are exactly what perpetuated the worst human behavior. Just because something is tradition or culture does not add weight to an argument over whether a practice or behavior is just or unjust.

    When video's of men in boats (with hardhats?) stabbing dolphins (a beloved mammal) in blood red water, there is going to be a reaction - and for the most, part not very positive. In the west, we grow up with stories of dolphins saving humans from sharks. We held a boycott of tuna until they changed fishing practices in the industry - this is a losing battle for Japan.

  • -1

    Peacetrain

    Interesting that Yoko doesn't really condemn the practice herself. She's just worried about Japan's reputation.

  • 0

    Thunderbird2

    It's on the BBC now...

    The British and American ambassadors to Japan have joined a chorus of international criticism at fishermen there who hunt and slaughter dolphins.

    The annual killing takes place at a coastal town in the south of the country where the mammals are driven into a pen and then killed for their meat using metal poles.

    Environmentalists claim the practice is cruel and dolphins can take up to 30 minutes to die by suffocation or drowning.

    The BBC's Rupert Wingfield Hayes said dolphins are dragged up onto the beach and slaughtered.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25823024

  • 0

    Chamkun

    Another reason I dislike Yoko Ono.

  • 0

    Todd Clauson

    So sad, the support for this tradition. I've always wanted to visit Japan someday, but knowing now the behavior if this country my desire to visit this place has left. I hope that Japan's whaling traditions hurts their economic standing with businesses and with tourism. Boycott the Japanese businesses. Its what we can do as a consumer.

  • -2

    Michelle Hendricks

    I live in Hawaii & often see visitors from Japan, I have asked many of them how they feel about the killings of the dolphins & whales in the Taiji cove. Most, if not just about ALL of them say they have no idea this is going on, some out & out denied this is happening. So I ask them when they return if they would check it out online & spread the word to please stop this cruel behavior. Aloha Michelle

  • 0

    toshiko

    Dolphin meat in Japanese word is IRUKA. Unlike whale meat, a majority of Japanese do not know existence of dolphin hunting. Inland Sea faced Japanese areas are full of shrimps and other seafood anyway. Dolphin is exotic. @Michelle: Whaling is in Taiji cove? Must be very crowded there with dolphins and whales.

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