Environmentalists staged a rally in the capital Saturday to protest the start of Japan’s annual dolphin hunt, which was made infamous by an Academy Award-winning documentary.
The rally organizer, Action for Marine Mammals, said it was one of a number of rallies taking place around the world this weekend ahead of the season’s hunt in the fishing village of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.
About 50 activists gathered in central Tokyo carrying banners that read: “Stop the slaughter.”
“Japanese people are responsible for stopping our country’s barbarian dolphin hunt,” said Toshiaki Morioka, head of the group, adding some members planned to travel to Taiji later.
The village drew global attention after “The Cove,” a hard-hitting film about the annual dolphin hunt, won the Academy Award for best documentary in 2010.
The “hunt” entails corralling hundreds of dolphins into a secluded bay, selecting a few dozen for sale to aquariums, and slaughtering the rest for meat. The hunt takes place over a period of months.
Marching side by side with the environmentalists, a dozen Japanese nationalists shouted through megaphones: “Get out of Japan! Hypocrites!”The nationalists accused the environmentalists of undermining Japan’s culture and traditions, labeling the demonstrators as “environmental terrorists.”
Some tried to break up the march, but the police separated them from the procession to prevent further clashes.