A number of animal protection groups and local assembly members in Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture, are strongly protesting a duck catching competition held as part of the traditional Itoman Hare festival — a type of boat race — calling on organizers to halt the event.

Confrontations are becoming more severe between animal rights groups that say it constitutes animal abuse and organizers who claim it is a local tradition.

They have been at odds since around 2015, but there have been few chances for both sides to meet face to face to discuss the issue.