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Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012

HOTLINE TO NAGATACHO

Stop the annual Taiji dolphin massacre, make your children proud

To the mayor and people of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture,

I implore you to read all of this very important message. Japan has recently undergone horrific natural disasters and the rest of the world has rallied to help you. Please don't let their trust in you and goodwill be in vain.

Imagine you and your entire family are on an outing on a normal day, with friends and other families. Some strangers appear and begin to encircle you and herd you all toward an unfamiliar place. You are confused and try to run, but you are surrounded by noise and nets and frightened.

In that unfamiliar place, you see other people you know — distant relatives, neighbors — and many more you have never met.

Noise and shouting starts. Your friends and neighbors are shouting and screaming. The strangers begin to hit and stab everyone: the old, the young, pregnant mothers, babies.

Families try to run, try to protect their children. They call to them to run away, but no one can. You are all trapped. No matter what you say, no matter how you plead for your life, the strangers continue to stab and hit and kill.

Other strangers, who are different, try to stop the first group from hurting you, but they will not listen. The killing goes on all day until everyone you know is dead or lying drowning in each other's blood, mothers calling dying words to already dead children and husbands. You cannot understand or believe that this has happened. You have hurt no one.

Sadly, the strangers go out the next day, and the next, and the next for months, hunting down and finding other families and killing them too.

Where on Earth could this happen?

I understand that a barbaric and horrendous dolphin slaughter is now under way in Taiji, a slaughter that takes place every year in your town.

I find this practice of stabbing and drowning such a passive animal cruel, unnecessary and totally out-of-place in a modern society. The way these creatures are herded and killed is inhumane and must be stopped.

There is no reason, except stupid pride and outdated tradition, to continue this barbaric practice. These are intelligent mammals your "fishermen" are murdering.

Fishermen can claim they steal fish from nets, or any other excuses they can think of, but this method is so pathetically savage as a "punishment" for these creatures — one that they don't understand.

A wise race would celebrate the existence of these animals, promoting them and perhaps developing a tourist industry around visiting and viewing them, as Australians have with the beloved whales and dolphins that pass through our waters. People come from all over the world — including Japan — to feed, photograph and simply have the privilege of being near them.

I have heard the Japanese defend whaling and dolphin murder by saying Australia is hypocritical for killing kangaroos. This is done, however, when numbers have exploded, the animals have eaten all available food and are often starving. They are shot quickly and cleanly by professional shooters. The majority of the time there is no suffering, and the culls are regulated.

They are not murdered slowly en masse. Almost all Australian wildlife is protected, and culling is done as a last resort, not for annual amusement.

Dolphins are intelligent, harmless and pose no threat to us. To murder them in this way is just heartbreaking.

I have always considered Japanese people to be honorable, intelligent, meticulous and committed. After seeing this slaughter, however, my opinions are changing. There is no honor in this. This is barbarism.

Please show the rest of the world that you are committed to wildlife and environmental protection. Please make the world proud of you by outlawing this slaughter.

Please make Taiji a dolphin and environmental haven. Act now and don't let this killing happen even one more time.

Please make this something you are proud to tell your children you stood up for, not something you are ashamed of in your past.

DEB BOWEN-SAUNDERS

Keperra, Australia

Send comments on this issue and Hotline to Nagatacho submissions of 500-700 words to community@japantimes.co.jp .


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