- Posted September 17, 2012 by
SeaShepherd in Japan
The end of summer means the arrival of a depressing season for the residents of Taiji. This is because the activities of Sea Shepherd get underway. Sea Shepherd deploys its activists in Taiji to monitor the dolphin hunting which starts there at the beginning of September. The word “monitoring” sounds good, but in fact this mainly involves harassing local residents by directing cameras at them or stalking the people in any way connected to the hunting. Although there are some activists who question these practices, Sea Shepherd is a growing cause of stress for the residents of Taiji.
Who then are these activists who come to Taiji? They can roughly be categorized into three different types:
The first type includes those who come to Taiji to stop hunting by all possible means. They feel angry about the dolphin hunting after having seen the movie “The Cove” or having received one-sided information about the hunting by Sea Shepherd. These people are innocent and many of them feel disappointed with the actual activities they are involved in and end up leaving Japan. Some others suffer from problems in their personal lives or have mental issues. It is possible that these personal problems are their main motivation.
The second type is those who come to Taiji to achieve results as activists or to promote their own fame. If you read activists’ tweets and blogs, you occasionally come across people whose names are known from TV or magazines. Since people in English-speaking countries have no means of knowing what kind of activities these activists are undertaking in Taiji, celebrity activists can describe their achievements in whatever way they like. As long as they pay for the stay, they can make their claim to fame without having to do anything at all. For those with dubious titles such as eco-racer, psychic-medium, artist-activist, such activities are very convenient.
The third type is those who come to Taiji as curious onlookers without giving it much thought. These are most likely foreign nationals living in Japan. There are some among them who randomly harass local people when they pass by. This may be the most troublesome type to deal with.
What these people do is no more than make a small contribution to the local economy and they have been almost ignored by the Japanese public. Furthermore, since the town of Taiji and the Wakayama prefectural police are always keeping an eye on them and will come to the rescue in the event of any harassment, the activists have been increasingly discouraged. Most of their activities now center on aimlessly watching the sea and ensuring their own boredom.
Under these circumstances the number of activists taking part in this campaign is likely to decline and the town of Taiji will be able to recover its tranquility. There is, however, a powerful media that offers a helping hand to these people.
In one of his reports, Mark Willacy, a correspondent of Australian ABC, described Sea Shepherd’s activities in Taiji as a heroic act. He stated that one courageous member of the Taiji municipal assembly is now against the dolphin hunting and concluded that there would be no future in dolphin hunting because of pressure from him and Sea Shepherd.
Nevertheless, as previously described, the activities of Sea Shepherd appear to have gotten stuck in a rut. Moreover, the aforementioned member of the municipal assembly is certainly no ally of Sea Shepherd. He supported the opponent of the incumbent mayor in the previous mayoral election. He opposes dolphin hunting simply because he opposes the incumbent mayor. His stance stems from a personal grudge and so does not reflect the true will of the residents. This leads us to conclude that the Taiji report by correspondent Willacy is nothing but a fabrication.
Seen from a Japanese perspective, much of the overseas reporting on whaling is also unfair. There are many occasions when we feel anti-whaling public opinion is concocted by the media and politicians.
It is impossible to strike a chord with the Japanese public using hysterical external pressure devoid of any logic. We want you to calm down a little and reflect upon what whales and dolphins actually mean to you.