Yokota base bans ‘Cove’ to be neutral

by Boyd Harnell

The Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove” has been banned from screening at the U.S. Air Force Yokota Air Base in Tokyo on the grounds that the film is politically sensitive, a spokesman said Monday.

Public affairs spokesman Maj. Christopher Watt said Col. Frank Eppich made the decision to refuse screening “The Cove” at a base theater “since using a military base as a venue that could be seen as an endorsement (of the film) one way or another would be prohibited.”

Asked if the base would consider reversing the decision, Watt said, “We’ll continue looking into it.”

Nevertheless, the spokesman added, “We have a lot of issues with Japan . . . and anything done on an American base would be seen as an approval of that event.”

Watt said the issue was raised after a base insider requested checking out a special projector to screen “The Cove” at a base theater.

“I’m personally very interested in seeing the film,” Watt said.

“The Cove” has won a major award in every film festival held worldwide, except Japan.

The film focuses on the annual slaughter of some 20,000 dolphins in a cove near Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, and health issues related to the toxic effects of high mercury levels found in dolphin meat sold for human consumption, including from the slaughter.

Japan considers its drive fisheries traditional and part of the nation’s cultural heritage, although the operation near Taiji is conducted secretly.

Activists worldwide have criticized Japan’s dolphin hunts and the U.S. Senate introduced Resolution 99 in 2005 condemning Japan and other countries hunting dolphins, citing inhumane methods in the slaughter and severe health hazards to consumers who eat the small cetaceans.