Although the deadly dolphin drive hunt season is underway in Taiji, this year perhaps more than any other holds the promise of hope. Activism in Japan is often portrayed as being subdued by societal norms and deference to authority, but it is actually alive and well as grassroots activists turned out to protest the start of the dolphin drive hunt season in early September.
While our film, The Cove, catalyzed global condemnation of these annual hunts, the best possibility to end them rests with the Japanese people. Bearing witness to these hunts is important, but our words and actions are not as effective as the groundswell of voices against these activities within Japan.
Although outsiders can be ignored, the power of Japanese voices cannot be so easily dismissed.
Japanese protestors held demonstrations outside the Taiji Whale Museum, handed out flyers to patrons, and marched through town to the harbor where the drive hunt boats are launched. A petition of over 2,300 signatures in solidarity against dolphin hunting was presented to the Taiji Fisheries Union, along with over 500 handmade postcards pleading for an end to these hunts.
We are encouraged and inspired by the rise in activism within Japan in response to the growing awareness around these hunts, launched in part by our important film. However, the tide will turn only when Japanese policymakers face the full force of international pressure and also look inward to what the people of Japan want for the 21st century.
The change that we all hope to see must come from within Japan. We continue to support these brave individuals who are working on the ground to educate their communities and fight for an end to these brutal hunts.
You can help by following the work of Japanese activists. Share their work and support them by donating to them directly where possible to sustain their efforts.
Consider a donation to Animal Liberator (LIB), one of our allies on the ground in Japan working hard to raise awareness and confront the dolphin drive hunts. You can follow Animal Liberator on Youtube, Facebook, or consider a donation here.
In time, we hope to profile other activists in Japan who are working to end these brutal hunts. Watch this space.