• Burlington, Ontario

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Ontarians as well as people from around the world recognized Sept. 1 as Dolphin Day. Unfortunately, Japan became the focus.

I have had the wonderful privilege and honor of visiting Japan several times, as beautiful, generous and loving people welcomed me into their homes for extended stays. I was so crushed with the devastating news of March’s horrible natural disasters that hit Japan. I cried and ached for the suffering. I held fundraisers to help collect money and prayers to send to Japan. I consider Japan my second home and miss it dearly.

On Sept. 1 a large group of individuals were in front of the Japanese consulate, asking for an end to the annual dolphin drive. I struggle to point fingers at Japan when, here in Canada, we have our own issues to clean up, including the annual Seal Hunt. I am seriously concerned about the negative image Japan has received because of the horrible inhumane slaughter of thousands of dolphins, which I know are extremely loving, social and sentient beings. Dolphins CAN feel pain, and the loss of their family members as they are captured and slain before their eyes.

As I know that, in Japan, honor is given to the beauty of nature, I am confused. How can such a barbaric act continue. It seems so opposite to the fundamental philosophy of Japan’s culture.

I recognize that Japan is an island nation and that fishing is a vital tradition. But science has proven that human consumption of whale and dolphin meat is actually dangerous due to the high toxicity level of heavy metals that accumulate in the fatty tissues of these mammals. In light of the nuclear reactor accident and the release of radioactive materials into waters off Fukushima Prefecture, one should be more concerned with all contaminants that now are entering the food chain. This cannot be ignored!

I suspect that a small population of people in Japan actually do eat dolphin meat. Yet, when I was there, I did not meet one Japanese citizen who ate it, and each one opposed the dolphin drives. There was shame and embarrassment over this issue.

It would be a great example for Japan to show the world that it understands that these amazing highly intelligent beings should be protected and celebrated rather than killed or put on display. This would help return the world’s love for Japan.

People need reasons to visit Japan now, especially in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. Tourism is vital. My friends have said they need people to come and visit Japan as many business are suffering because of the decline of tourism. There is no better time than now to end the dolphin drive and promote dolphin tours to encourage tourism in general.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

susanna duft

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