Caroline Kennedy, the newly minted U.S. Ambassador to Japan, has spoken out against the country’s practice of dolphin killing, calling it “inhumane.”
An annual dolphin hunt season, which runs from September to March, takes place in the western Japanese town of Taiji. As depicted in the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary “The Cove,” fishermen use a method called “drive hunting,” to herd a few hundred dolphins into a cove, where they are trapped by fishing nets. Some are released, a few are chosen to be sold to marine parks and aquariums, but the majority are slaughtered on shore for meat.
In a diplomatically bold move, Kennedy expressed her “deep concern” with this post on her official Twitter:
Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries.
— キャロライン・ケネディ駐日米国大使 (@CarolineKennedy) January 18, 2014
Timothy Hitchens, the British Ambassador to Japan, also expressed his concern on Twitter, writing “UK opposes all forms of dolphin and porpoise drives; they cause terrible suffering. We regularly raise (the issue) with Japan.”
Reuters reports that on Tuesday, “at least 30 dolphins out of the group of more than 200 held in the cove since Friday were herded by boat engines and nets into a killing area of the Taiji cove.
"Fishermen waiting in the shallow waters by the shore, some in wet suits with snorkeling masks on their faces, wrestled the dolphins into submission and tied their tails with ropes to stop them from escaping.
“Before the killing began, fishermen pulled a tarpaulin in front of the cove to prevent activists and reporters from seeing the killing. A large pool of blood seeped under the tarpaulin and spread across the cove.”
The Japanese government has spoken out in defense of dolphin hunting. At a news conference, Yosihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary stated “Dolphin fishing is a form of traditional fishing in our country. . . . We will explain Japan’s position to the American side.”
In the past, they have maintained that there is nothing illegal about the practice, since dolphin hunting (unlike whale hunting) is not illegal under international treaty.