Celebrities and companies were almost universally annoyed to discover their Twitter accounts were being bombarded with messages by activists seeking an end to Japan’s dolphin hunts.

Starting Sunday, more than 100 tweets were sent out to each account and then retweeted by activists and supporters. The so-called tweetstorm messages included the hashtag #STOPdolphinhunt (in Japanese) and asked account holders to retweet the messages, send them to celebrities and join the campaign.

Targeted celebrities were less than welcoming.

“I think this may only have the opposite effect,” reads one message posted by actor-singer Takeshi Tsuruno.

Other public figures included Kazuyo Katsuma, a business consultant and the author of several best-selling business books.

Public officials, manufacturers and mass media including NHK were also targeted. Most of the tweets were in Japanese, but some were also in English.

The brainchild of an activist known by her first name, Takayo, the campaign was begun at the end of July to raise awareness of dolphin hunts in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.

“I only wanted to spread the information and raise awareness of the dolphin hunts in Japan and was hoping the tweetstorm would cause a change” and help stop the slaughter, Takayo said. She did not want her full name used for fear of reprisals on the Internet.

“There aren’t many ways to disseminate information in Japan, so I thought that a tweetstorm might be the quickest,” she said.

She stopped sending messages on Monday after getting such a strong negative reaction from the celebrities, she said, adding that nonetheless the campaign, dubbed Awareness for Dolphins of Japan, has been a success.

Activists involved in the campaign claim Japanese “do not question where dolphins at aquariums come from, or what is happening to those animals,” and are urging that theme parks and aquariums be boycotted.

The activists also encourage Internet users to support former dolphin hunter — and now dolphin defender — Izumi Ishii, who has been criticizing the government for its stance that drive hunting as practiced in Taiji is a national cultural practice dating back hundreds of years.

According to Takayo, there were nearly 31,000 tweets related to the campaign.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.