US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy received an unlikely invitation from local fishermen to visit Taiji and witness the “humane” dolphin hunt herself.
Kennedy last month expressed her disapproval of the annual culling of dolphins in Taiji Cove, casting global spotlight on the bloodbath.
“Deeply concerned by the inhumaness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG (US Government) oppose drive hunt fisheries,” Kennedy posted in her Twitter account.
Every year during dolphin season, fishermen in corral hundreds of dolphins into a cove where the most beautiful creatures are captured to be sold to aquriams and the rest slaughtered for meat.
An official at the local fisheries said the killings are “painless”.
The Cove, an Oscar-winning film that documented the hunt, showed dolphins being harpooned, their blood staining the waters red. But the official said fishermen have resorted to a more “humane” of killing the dolphins.
“The method of killing causes them no pain,” said Yoshifumi Kai of the Taiji Fishermen’s Cooperative. “We cut the spinal cord so that they don’t bleed.”
The traditional killing is an essential livelihood for many in, the official added.
“This is a very small town in the countryside. We have no other major industries,” he told AFP. “We would like for Ambassador Kennedy to come and visit so that she can understand how we make a living from it.”
“I want the ambassador to see the reality here. We appreciate the gift of food we get from taking the precious life of animals.”
Japanese officials lashed out against what they said were campaigners’ double standards and insisted the dolphin hunt was a part of the country’s culture.
“We take away lives of animals like cows and pigs daily,” said Yoshinobu Nisaka, governor of Wakayama prefecture. “I don’t think it is logical to say that it is only cruel to eat dolphin meat.”
Japan is also stirring waters over its controversial whale hunting under the guise of “scientific research.”
“Whales and dolphins are an important marine resource, which should be sustainably used based on scientific data,” top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.
By Maesie Bertumen