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Voices from Taiji

Beyond our support of monitoring activities at the cove, OPS is encouraging activists on the ground who are working to raise awareness about the dolphin drive hunts in Japan, confront authorities, and oppose captive dolphin facilities.

In providing a platform for all courageous and committed activists working to end the dolphin drive hunts, OPS is profiling an interview with Ren Yabuki, a Japanese grassroots activist and director of Life Investigation Agency (LIA) to share his perspectives on seeking change within Japan.  The answers are provided in both English and Japanese.

If you would like to be profiled on our Voices from Taiji blog, please contact us at [email protected] so that we can share your important story and work.

Question: Can you tell us how or why you got involved in monitoring and protesting the dolphin drive hunts in Taiji?

Answer

私は2010年から少しずつイルカやクジラやアザラシの殺害に関する調査活動を始めました。イルカについて、具体的には、東北地方で突きん棒猟にて殺害されているイシイルカなどについて調べはじめ、その後2017年くらいから太地での活動も始めました。

Starting in 2010, I gradually began surveying dolphin, whale and seal slaughters. I started researching dolphins, specifically the Dall’s porpoises and small cetaceans that are targeted in Tsukinbo spear hunting in the Tohoku region, and then in 2017 I also started working in Taiji.

Question: How long have you known about the drive hunts and how did you find out about them?

Answer

太地のイルカ追い込み猟については、ドキュメンタリー映画「The Cove」を見ていたので知っていましたし、フェロー諸島の追い込み猟についてもEIA(Environmental Investigation Agency)からの発信で同じ時期から知っています。

太地での追い込み猟については、2017年から毎シーズン、太地に来て活動しているのでそれなりに詳しいと思います。

I had known about Taiji’s drive hunts from the documentary film, The Cove, and I had also known about the hunting in the Faroe Islands around same time from the EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency). Regarding Taiji’s drive hunts, I think I know a fair amount about the issue from being active in Taiji every season since 2017.

Question: What is the greatest challenge that you are facing on the ground in Taiji?

Answer

人員不足、費用不足などが一番深刻です。

Field costs and the lack of manpower are the most serious challenges.

Question: Do you think the drive hunts will ever end?

Answer

追込み猟は水族館にチケットを買って入場する人が居なくなった時に終わると思います。

※日本には「さるまわし」と呼ばれているサルに芸をさせるショーがあります。このショーは1200年以上前に始まったとされていますがいまだに終わらせる事が出来ていません。日本は島国なので変化がとても遅く、新しい事を受け入れることに抵抗を示したり、変化を受け入れたくない人がとても多いです。

I think the drive hunts will end when there are no more people buying tickets to visit aquariums and dolphinariums.

In Japan, there is also “Sarumawashi,” street shows in which monkeys are exploited and made to perform tricks. This show is said to have started more than 1200 years ago, but it has yet to be ended. Since Japan is an island nation, change can be very slow and many people are reluctant or unwilling to accept new things.

Question: What are the main reasons the drive hunts continue?

Answer

もしもその場合、キーマンは猟師と水族館にチケットを購入して入場する人です。イルカを捕獲したい猟師がいる限り、それをサポートする政治家がいます。チケットを購入して水族館に入場する人が居る限り、水族館はイルカを購入し続ける。需要と供給はイコールです。

The key players are the hunters and the people who buy tickets to enter the aquarium. As long as there are hunters who want to capture dolphins, there are also politicians who support them. As long as there are people who buy tickets to aquariums, the aquariums will continue to buy dolphins. Supply and demand are equal drivers.

Question: How do you personally feel about the dolphin drive hunts?

Answer

人間は地球上の食物連鎖に含まれていませんから、イルカ追い込み猟だけに留まらず、野生どうぶつの捕獲や殺害は、その理由を問わず、一切行われるべきではありません。野性どうぶつとは「地球そのもの」であり、自然界の食物連鎖の中でのみ、生死が繰り返されているからです。そこに含まれていない人間が、野生どうぶつを殺害すると、その命を殺害するだけでなく、生態系を攻撃し、破壊している事になります。

Humans are not part of the global food chain. Dolphin hunting, as well as the capture and killing of wild animals, regardless of the reason, should not be done at all. Wild animals are “the earth itself,” and this cycle of life and death is repeated only in the food chain of the natural world. When humans, who are not part of this chain, slaughter wild animals, we are not only killing the animals themselves, but we are also attacking and destroying the ecosystem.

Question: How do you maintain hope in the midst of such a brutal assault on dolphins? Is anything changing in Japan?

Answer

今年、多くの日本人が水族館にいるイルカの捕獲について知りました。そして多くの日本人が水族館に生体販売されないイルカについては、殺害され、食肉にされている現実についても知りました。

日本では今、Veganを選択する人も増えてきました。ようやく増えてきました。Life Investigation Agency(LIA)は2010年に設立されたNGO団体ですが日本人は少しずつ変化してきています。

それが私の希望であり、モチベーションになっています。

This year, many Japanese people learned about the capture of dolphins for the aquarium trade. Many Japanese people also learned about the reality of how dolphins that are not selected for captivity are slaughtered for meat.

In Japan, there are more people that are choosing to go vegan. More people are finally choosing to go vegan. Life Investigation Agency (LIA) is an NGO that was established in 2010, but the impact in Japan is growing little by little.

This is my hope, as well as my motivation.

Question: Do you think that people who visit dolphinariums would stop doing so if they learned about these hunts?

Answer

水族館に行く人の中には、大きく分けて2つの思考の人が居ます。

1つは、水族館にいるイルカ達の捕獲や、そこに連れてこられた背景について知らない人達です。事実を知らない人に、事実を知らせる事は大変重要な事であり、事実や背景を知ることで水族館にチケットを購入して入場しなくなる人が居ます。こういう人を増やす事がまず第一歩であり、ここに焦点を当てた活動は、大変重要な活動だと思います。

もう一方の思考の人は、水族館にいるイルカ達の捕獲や、そこに連れてこられた背景について知っていても、自分達の娯楽の時間の為に、入場料を支払って水族館に入る人達がいます。このような人達は、心理学用語で「認知的不協和」と呼ばれ、その他の事柄についても、自分自身の矛盾に気が付いていても変化する事を意図的に拒否している人達です。これらの人達は、イルカやクジラの問題だけに留まらず、多くの問題を引き起こしています。しかしこれらの人達も世の中が変化し、そして何よりも世代交代して行く事によって新しい価値観に変化して行くので、いずれ水族館もどうぶつ園もなくなり、野生どうぶつの捕獲も、勿論イルカショーも無くなると思います。しかし、世の中が変化する事をただ待っているだけでは、現在の人間の倫理観の欠如により、多くの野性どうぶつ達が絶滅してしまい、生態系も崩壊し、地球も破壊されてしまうので、私達は急ピッチで、尚且つ結果出す方法で社会変革をもたらせるように努力しなければならないと考えています。

Within the people who go to aquariums, there are generally two types of people.

The first are those who do not know about the issues surrounding dolphin captivity, and the background of how the dolphins were brought there. It is very important to inform the people who do not know the facts; when they know the facts and background, they will stop buying tickets. Increasing the number of such people is the first step, and I think focusing on this aspect is very important.

On the other hand, there are those who know about captivity issues, and the background of how the dolphins were brought there, but still pay the admission fee to enter the aquarium for their own entertainment. These people are what psychologists call “cognitive dissonance,” people who are aware of their own inconsistencies, but deliberately refuse to change. These people are the cause of many problems, aside from dolphin and whale issues.

However, as the world changes and most importantly as the generations change, these people will change to new values. Eventually there will be no more aquariums, no more zoos, no more captivity of wild animals, and of course no more dolphin shows. However, if we just wait for the world to change, many wild animals will go extinct due to the lack of ethics of the current generation of human beings. The ecosystem will collapse, and the earth could be destroyed. We need to work hard and in a result-oriented manner to help quickly bring social change.

Question: What are a few things our supporters can do to support Japanese activists in Taiji?

Answer

活動する資金を確保してほしいです。

LIAは現在、活動に必要な機材が購入出来ていません。資金難は世界中の組織で起きている課題の可能性も高いですが、特に日本には寄付の文化が無い為、多くの日本人は自分のためにしかお金を使いません。その為、日本では、より専門的に問題改革に取り組む活動家が育ち辛い状況になっています。活動資金が確保できれば人員の確保にも繋がります。なぜなら日本人の休暇システムは、毎週1日、もしくは2日の休日を隔週繰り返す仕組みであり、海外諸国のように纏まった休日の確保は、年間に3回しかありません。このような休暇システムの中、活動に専念することは困難です。この問題も活動資金が十分にあれば、多くの人が活動に専念でき、また、若い活動家を育成できるチャンスにも繋がります。

Securing funds to cover equipment and field costs is vital.

LIA is currently unable to purchase necessary equipment. Fundraising is likely to be a challenge for many organizations around the world, but in Japan it is especially difficult because Japan does not have a culture of donations and many Japanese spend money only for themselves. Because of this, it is difficult for Japanese organizations to develop activists who can work on problem reform in a more professional manner. If we can secure funding, we can also secure personnel.

In Japanese work cultures, the off-day system typically consists of one or two days off each week, repeated every other week. [And on top of that] there are only three vacation days per year, which is very different from off-time and vacation time in other countries. Under such a system, it is difficult to dedicate time to activism. This problem can be solved if there is enough funding for activism, so that more people can devote themselves to activism. This would also bring more opportunities to train younger activists.

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