In defense of our ‘ocean elders’

Regarding the Feb. 2 editorial “Defend dolphins, not a ‘tradition“: Japanese society must join with the rest of the world in ending the exploitation and mistreatment of cetacean mammals — dolphins and whales. We now know they are advanced in intelligence, awareness and social organization. We should consider them our ocean elders.

We keep getting the question from Japanese apologists: “What makes their slaughter different from the butchering of cows or pigs?” First, they are wild, free, large mammals with advanced intelligence and personhood, or awareness. This makes their exploitation closer to cannibalism or murder when you compare it to the butchering of a domestic animal.

Second, the cruelty of the process in herding, imprisoning and painfully killing them would not be tolerated on any farm in the civilized world. In fact, it is illegal in most places to treat pigs or cows this way.

Third, the meat from these marine mammals is tainted with chemicals due to ocean pollution. Dolphin and whale meat is an unregulated, unnecessary dietary protein. The industry that sells these intelligent beings is even more profitable. It must be challenged as if it were part of the human slave trade.

Japan (as well as Denmark and Iceland) are allowing their cultures to be discredited by continuing with obsolete barbarism. Cetaceans are the people of the oceans and deserve at least the defense of other cherished animals such as cats and dogs.

We recommend that the Japanese government confer with the Indian government, which has passed laws recognizing the personhood of dolphins and outlawing their imprisonment. This should be the new standard.

bee evans
oak harbor, washington

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.

  • Jay Trilling

    Excellent points made. And yes marine mammals should get the same defense and protection laws as domestic dogs and cats do.

  • justme

    Plus, it takes the females 12-14 years to mature & reproduce. Our oceans cannot sustain this over time.

  • Angela P. Woodrat

    Like my parents before me, I have always had profound respect for Japanese traditional culture, craft, and art. They traveled several times to Japan in the 1960s–my father had been stationed there in WWII as part of the occupation, but loved the country. This “tradition” should no longer go on now that scientists know that dolphins are self-aware, intelligent, social creatures capable of much more suffering than livestock. The method of slaughter this year has been filmed and reported on in a scientific journal–it is horrific and insanely cruel. I don’t think a tradition of cruelty is worth defending and I really hope this practice ends very soon. Too much suffering is going on in Taiji. The westerners who oppose this are only acting out of compassion for these helpless wild animals–they do the same in their own countries for the animals here.