Looks like the screenings of the 2010 Oscar-winning dolphin hunt documentary “The Cove” will not take place in Tokyo this month as originally planned, which is no surprise. Conservatives there claim the film is anti-Japanese and have threatened Japan’s distribution company Unplugged, with demonstrations, according to a Reuters report.
“The Cove” – Dolphin Hunt & Slaughter – Taiji, Japan
A sobering look at supposedly the world’s largest Dolphin supplier, located in the quaint town of Taiji, Japan; “The Cove” documentary embraces an activist group’s struggle with Japanese fishermen and police in their effort to enter, investigate and halt dolphin hunting taking place in an isolated cove in Taiji, in the south of Japan.
Many of the dolphins, once captured, are then sold to tourist locations and theme parks. What happens to the rest and why did it warrant an exhaustive effort by filmmakers to create a documentary? Why is Japan’s government up in arms and desperate to stop the film from showing in Tokyo now?
Well, according to an eye-opening statement at TakePart.com, which is an online community sharing concerns and resources for all types of worthy causes, some 20,000 dolphins and porpoises are slaughtered annually off the coast of Japan. The group claims the meat, which has high levels of toxic mercury, is sold as food in Japan and various other parts of Asia, under the guise of being whale meat!
Obviously, “The Cove” documentary raised some eyebrows and opened up an ugly assortment of problems for Taiji following its premiere in 2009. Worldwide attention on dolphin hunting in Taiji forced Taiji powers-that-be to implement a temporary ban on killing bottle-nosed dolphins. The people who live in Taiji were also being tested for mercury poisoning as well, as is noted at TakePart.com.
However, it is interesting to point out that an AP article at CBSNEWS online last month, claims that while the residents of Taiji that were tested do indeed have seriously high levels of mercury, higher than the national average, there existed “…no ill effects.” Apparently 1137 of the town’s 3500 residents were tested.
The article suggests that “outside experts” may be included in the re-testing of Taiji residents next March. I would not hold my breath waiting for that to happen. I am not sure I trust the Japanese government’s findings that the dangerously high levels of mercury in these people left no ill effects.
Former National Geographic Photographer “The Cove” Director
Louie Psihoyos, formerly a photographer for National Geographic for 18 years, is “The Cove” executive director. Psihoyos, noted for his passion of environmental-based issues, made his film making debut with “The Cove” and walked away with an Oscar. Psihoyos is also the executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) based in Boulder, Colorado. I can only imagine the amount of passion he poured into this 90-minute best feature documentary.
Japanese Tradition or Contemporary Greed
While the government body of Japan claims that dolphin and whale hunting is an integral part of their cultural tradition, how much of that tradition is just modern-day greed and has nothing to do with maintaining familial rituals? Some proclaim it is a multi-billion dollar industry!
Seems to me the citizens of Japan have the right to see “The Cove” documentary if they want to or ignore it if they support the so-called cultural tradition of hunting dolphins. The idea that the Japanese government is threatening protests to quash screenings of “The Cove,” opens them up to even more unwanted worldwide attention. Is this justified or should we all mind what’s going on in our own countries and stay out of Japan’s business?
*Reuters – “Dolphin hunt film screenings canceled in Tokyo”
*Oceanic Preservation Society