The meeting scheduled between Taiji’s mayor, Kazutaka Sangen, and various conservation groups (Whaleman Foundation, Save Japan Dolphins, Sea Shepherd) started at 10:00am yesterday, November 2nd. Since my camera was not permitted at the meeting, I remained at the cove to await the expected after-meeting activities. Things were quiet there, when suddenly a police loudspeaker boomed from the opposite side of the tunnel which separates the cove from the town of Taiji. A throng of reporters advanced toward my position, enough that they were spilling off the sidewalk into the narrow street.
Ric O’Barry was staging his own press conference at the cove with his son Lincoln as a boycott f the official meeting at town hall. The O’Barry’s had brought along a long paper scroll containing a list of countries with numbers counting over 2 million signatures from around the world by people opposed to dolphin hunting. Ric also gave his reasoning for boycotting the hunt stating that the meeting was “a sham”, and the mayor had worked closely with Japanese organizations who threatened theater owners if they showed the documentary film, The Cove. He also said that he does not support any organization that calls for a boycott of Japanese products and that his presence in Japan is an “anti-boycott”.
The meeting was described as and overly-moderated public display created solely in attempt to discredit the few organizations that oppose the dolphin hunt in Taiji. The moderator, Atsoshi Nakahira, is a well known right-wing activist who despises non-Japanese groups and people who come to Japan calling for change. He drives a small car mounted with large, very loud speakers through which he yells barely-intelligible threats demanding that “Ric go home!” (that all I could make out – see the video). Although Mr. Nakahira has a deep hatred for Sea Shepherd, he surprisingly likes Scott West and the two get along quite well. In person, Mr. Nakahira is an animated, friendly, and sociable fellow (see previous video), but when he’s in his car – he turns into “Mr. Hyde”. When considering that this meeting was arranged by Mr. Hyde between an unwavering mayor of Taiji representing all-too-proud “fishermen” with their livelihoods at stake, it was predicted days before that the meeting would result in a deadlock with neither side conceding anything.
Once the meeting was complete, Scott and Elora West instructed the mob of cameras and reporters to meet them at the cove for a proper question & answer session [video]. This lasted for nearly 3 hours with the same issues being brought up again and again. Here’s what they look like:
- Americans eat chickens, pigs, and cows and Japanese people don’t bother you about that. Why do you bother Japanese people about whale and dolphin?
- What will the fishermen do for money when they stop killing dolphins?
- Why should we listen to Sea Shepherd when they are violent eco-terrorists?
- Isn’t Sea Shepherd just doing this to get rich from donations?
Then there were some valid questions which you can hear in the video.
After the interviews, Elora, Dinielle, and Rosie (from South Africa) wanted to pick up a few snacks from the grocery store. Being that Rosie and myself are vegan, they wanted to follow us to see what we eat. It’s difficult to explain to a camera crew who speaks almost no English that it’s easy to be vegan in Japan as long as you can read the labels. So, we walked around the grocery store, first to the deli. The reporter kept gesturing to different fried fish which were on display saying “How about this? Would you eat this?”. To which we repeated “No, no fish”. Rosie showed up with some noodles and we had their translator read the label “Oh… this has fish” then another “Oh… this also has fish” (Geeze, Japan! Knock it off with the fish in everything!). But Rosie, being a natural in front of the camera, clearly stated that “we like to cook our own food. We can make a delicious stir fry or vegetable tempura.”. The news crew seemed eerily interested in veganism. Now… if we could get American media interested in veganism.
- MORE VIDEO WILL BE POSTED SHORTLY-
The one question I remember most was, “So, you are Vegan. Does that mean you want to make everyone become vegan like you?”. You see… my answer would be “I wish I could!”, but that’s why I need to stay off camera. Rosie simply states, “No, I want to educate people about what they eat and allow them to make the choice for themselves”. You go, Rosie! Later I thought about it… nobody made me go vegan. I did so naturally after educating myself about the source and effects of what I ate. From an environmental, health, and humane perspective, veganism is the only diet that makes sense.
Finally, we managed to ditch the camera crew just in time to make the 3-1/2 hour (each way) trip to Osaka to pick up another Cove Guardian. The new person brought some new camera gear, energy bars (virtually non-existent in Japan), and fresh energy to our crew. None the less, we only had about 5 hours of sleep to look forward to before we started again the next day.