The Tokyo District Court ruled Thursday against a government deportation order issued to a U.S. activist opposing dolphin hunts when he tried to enter Japan three years ago.
The government had argued that when Richard “Ric” O’Barry, 79, who featured in the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” had entered the country previously he did not act upon his declaration and created a nuisance in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, known for the dolphin hunt documented in the film.
O’Barry told immigration officials that he was going to watch a dolphin hunt when he tried to enter Japan in 2016.
He had booked a hotel in Taiji and a return flight, and “it is not peculiar that he did not have any concrete schedule other than watching a dolphin hunt,” presiding Judge Hideaki Mori said.
Mori also said it was not true that he had obstructed any dolphin hunt and “it is hard to suspect him of having tried to trouble fishermen.”
According to the ruling, O’Barry sought to enter Japan on Jan. 18, 2016, at Narita International Airport for sightseeing but was denied entry.
He was deported on Feb. 5 after his appeal to enter the country was turned down.