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Regarding Susanna Duft’s Sept. 8 letter, “Boon for a new tourism drive“: Duft seems to believe in the misguided logic that ending the annual dolphin slaughter in Japan will encourage much-needed tourism, which has been decimated by the March 11 Tohoku-Pacific earthquake and tsunami.

Do people refrain from visiting Canada because of the annual baby fur seal cull?

Do tourists shun France because of the force-feeding of geese in the production of foie gras?

In a word, no. People may tut at such practices when they read the papers, but they rarely cancel holidays on political principle.

And, indeed, why should they? Every single nation on Earth kills animals for food or other byproducts. A lot of the animals killed for food are “social and sentient” but not “beings.” I’m fairly sure that despite Duft’s misty-eyed anthropomorphic projections, dolphins do not experience the loss of family anywhere near the same extent, or in the same way, as humans do.

Also, unlike Duft, I see no moral conflict in Japan between the tradition of giving “honor … to the beauty of nature” and culling dolphins. Japan is not alone in the world in having certain animals to admire aesthetically or keep as pets, while reserving other animal species for food and other practical needs. The animals in question differ from country to country, that is all.

As we have seen this year, tourism can be seriously affected by natural and man-made disasters. But I do not believe tourism has been affected by the documenary film “The Cove.” Most people visit Japan seeking aspects they admire, and wisely choose to ignore less palatable cultural elements.

So, there is actually very little connection between perceived “barbaric” practices toward animals and the health of tourism in Japan, except in Duft’s overly sentimental Western mind.

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.

laura holland

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