Tag Archive: Japan

Dolphins: A Japanese Plea for Help!

photo Sakura Paia

Around 250 bottlenose dolphins trapped in Taiji killing Cove, among them a rare white baby.

Taiji Japan: Its the middle of the dolphin hunting season and a massive catch of some 250 bottlenose dolphins have been driven into the infamous killing Cove. Among this is a very rare white, albino dolphin, who until yesterday was swimming closely at its mother’s side. Right now, dolphin trainers are working alongside the dolphin hunters selecting young and unmarked dolphins to be sold into captivity and the little albino dolphin was the first to be taken, forcibly separated from its mother, never to see her, or freedom again. Each captive dolphin will be worth up to 150,000$. This current large capture operation will be worth millions and it is this money that will continue to subsidize the killing of the remaining dolphins which will soon be sold as steak to locals. That the meat is full of toxins is never addressed by authorities.
Japanese experts decry such cruel killing of dolphins, the selling of their toxic meat for human consumption and especially the captivity industry which fuels the whole thing. Please read, sign and share the information below. (photos credit Sakura Paia)

Photo by Sakura Paia

Taken from its mother who may be killed and eaten, this rare baby albino dolphin now faces a life of imprisonment at the Taiji Whale Museum

An Open Letter to Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director
of the World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA)
17th January, 2014

Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director
Executive Office of the World Association of Zoos and Aquarium ( WAZA )
IUCN Conservation Centre
Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland
E-mail: gerald.dick@waza.org

Dear Dr. Gerald Dick,

Thank you for your reply to our petition. In our previous petition we asked you to take strong action to make the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) comply with the WAZA Code of Ethics and require that all JAZA-affiliated facilities immediately stop obtaining dolphins through the drive hunts in Japan.

To our regret, your reply didn’t include any concrete measure to answer our petition, and completely contradicted WAZA’s statement that “cruelty to any animals is not acceptable.” We, the following three Japanese organizations, have been waiting for WAZA’s practical action for nearly ten years since the WAZA took a position against dolphin drive hunts in Japan, noting that: “the catching of dolphins by the use of a method known as ‘drive fishing’ is considered an example of such a non-acceptable capture method.”

In your recent reply, you mentioned that “As you know, in some Japanese communities these drives have been part of the culture for centuries.” This claim is incorrect. The drive hunt in Taiji was and is not Japanese culture. It is a shame that this erroneous reason/excuse is the rationale for WAZA not to take an action based on “the Code of Ethics.”

In fact, the history of dolphin hunting in Taiji is short. According to “The History of Taiji,” edited and published by Taiji town in 1979, the first recorded dolphin drive was in 1933, with subsequent hunts occurring in 1936 and 1944. It was not until 1969 that dolphin drives have been conducted on a large scale. The history of the dolphin drives spans not so-called 400 years, but a mere 45. Furthermore, in 1969, the main goal of the dolphin drive was to capture pilot whales as prized showpieces for the Taiji Whale Museum. In other words, the dolphin drive was purely for profit, having nothing to do with cultural history. Since 1969 a close relationship began building between the drive hunt and aquaria as financial activities.

Considering WAZA’s Code of Ethics, we believe that even culture and long history should not be acceptable reasons to inflict pain and agony on wild animals. Though you replied that “WAZA member facilities place animal welfare at the forefront of all animal acquisitions,” JAZA still allows its members to acquire dolphins from extremely cruel drive hunts, and, as we wrote you in previous petition, the number of dolphins caught using these unethical capture methods has only been increasing.

Our request:

We sincerely request again that you take urgent action to make JAZA stop its member aquariums from buying and trading dolphins obtained from the drive hunt. Please reply, indicating to us what you will do to implement our request. What we heartily request is your concrete plan to support the conservation and ethical treatment of dolphins by ending your member aquariums’ procurement of dolphins from the Taiji drive hunts. As we explain in detail above, the drive hunt is not Japanese culture or tradition, so there is no need to refrain from acting against the drive hunt as a matter of cultural sensitivity. We previously petitioned JAZA to abide by the WAZA Code of Ethics. However, JAZA replied to us that they did not recognize any problem as long as JAZA follows the laws of Japan. Clearly, JAZA has no intention to observe WAZA’s Code of Ethics. If JAZA continues to violate the WAZA Code of Ethics, JAZA should be disqualified from remaining as a member of the WAZA, and should be expelled from the WAZA. On the other hand, allowing JAZA to remain a part of WAZA weakens WAZA’s authority and credibility.

Yours sincerely,

Sakae Hemmi, Elsa Nature Conservancy

Yukari Sugisaka, Help Animals

Sachiko Azuma, Put an End to Animal Cruelty and Exploitation ( PEACE )

We ask you to send your reply to our petition in written form by February 20th to the following address.

Yukari Sugisaka, Help Animals
Mail Box No.45, Tokyo Voluntary Action Center,
Kaguragashi 1-1, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-0823, Japan
Fax: 81-3-6701-2187


Pilot Whale Slaughter in Taiji–UPDATE


Report from Taiji May 6th tells us that after thousands of people responded to the call for help and quickly called, phoned, faxed and emailed the Taiji officials and embassies, it was decided that the 25 or so remaining pilot whales would be released!
However, exhausted, hungry, terrified and traumatized as they were, even when the nets to the killing cove were opened, the whales remained, knowing so many of their clan remained missing–killed and carted off to the slaughter house to be butchered…
Eventually the hunters drove the remaining pilot whales back out to sea, but without their parents, elders and protectors, who knows what their fate will be. Humans appear ill-equiped to comprehend the profound and interdependent nature of pilot whale families which remain together for life–some 65 years. To remove so many members of the family so brutally is as if to rip out someone’s lungs or heart and then tell them to be on their way…. This needs to end.

After a long and bloody killing season in Taiji, closely monitored by many dedicated cetacean advocates from around the world, including increasing numbers of concerned Japanese citizens, we all thought the waters of the Cove would stay blue until the dolphin drive season resumed in September…..

But we underestimated the greed of the Taiji hunters and right now the waters of the Cove are running red with the blood of some 75 or so pilot whales.

The Cove runs red with the blood of pilot whales

Thankfully Brian Barnes and Scott West from Save Japan Dolphins and Sea Shepherd are on the scene, monitoring the situation and reminding the killers that the eyes of the world are still trained upon their dark and cruel deeds!
More than ever it is essential that the international community voices its continuing opposition to this needless cruelty against sentient cetaceans and in doing so, continue to raise awareness about this happening in Japan and encourage the good people there to push for change and an end to this.
Contacts to voice protest against pilot whale slaughter in Taiji Cove right NOW (you can email in english):

Wakayama prefecture office, Fishery Division
TEL: +81-73-441-3010
FAX: +81-73-432-4124
Email: e0715001@pref.wakayama.lg.jp

Taiji town hall: +81735592335
Taiji fishermen’s union: +81735592340
Japan Fisheries Agency: +81335028111

pilot whales are intelligent beings who cherish their family ties above all else

People need to realize that pilot whales are incredible beings of immense intelligence and social complexity who value above all else their close family ties. Their lifespans are as long as ours and grandmother whales are the wise leaders of their clans which stay together for life.

Let us raise our voices to protect these amazing whales from ignorance and cruelty!
for more info please visit:




We can end this--raising our voices together.


Japan: In the Wake of Chaos

In these weeks following the 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunamis that have ravaged large parts of coastal Japan, so many heart rending stories of rescue, loss and survival continue pouring in.

an elderly patient in a Tagajo hospital without power, gives thanks for nourishment

In anxious contact with my dear friends in Japan, some are tackling the chaos to cover news stories, some have bravely set out to aid rescue and and rebuilding efforts, others, displaced and distressed have sent me pleas for medicine and even help accessing clean, safe drinking water. I’m doing what I can for them.

Overshadowing all is the continuing threat issuing from the Fukashima nuclear plant that is clearly leaking radiation which has now found its way into food and water supplies, even as far afield as Tokyo.  In the face of these trials, the fortitude, kindness and dignity of the Japanese people shines brightly. Ragged communities draw together to pool resources, help one another and share comfort, rather than the looting and pillaging we can so easily imagine taking place if north america were in the same position…. I cannot adequately express my admiration, nor my sadness and concern for the people of Japan in the face of this crisis.  Please, if you have not already donated to relief effort, I hope you will do so.

Ryo Taira rescues a little porpoise trapped in a flooded rice field after the tsunami.

Even with so many worries over daily survival a recent story about a pet shop owner who waded out into a rice field flooded by the tsunami to rescue a little porpoise, has been making headlines in Japan and around the world.


Ryo Taira, the porpoise’s rescuer, who carried the little cetacean all the way back to the ocean to set it free, acknowledged the little fellow was as much a victim of the tsunami as everyone else and deserved a helping hand.
To me, this iconic image represents a tremendous act of kindness amid chaos and also a ray of hope toward a future where a majority of Japanese people view and treat dolphins and whales with this kind of regard and compassion.

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