Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Right-wingers vow to block release of 'The Cove' in Japan"

More "Cove" related news from today's Japan Today:

Dozens of right-wing activists protested Friday outside the office of a Japanese distributor of the Oscar-winning “The Cove,” demanding that the gory portrayal of dolphin hunting in Japan not be shown in the country.

“The Cove” won this year’s best documentary Oscar with its depiction of dolphin hunts in Taiji, a small fishing village in western Japan.

The protesters Friday accused the distributor of betraying Japanese national pride by supporting the film, which they see as insulting to traditional village culture of which dolphin hunting is part.

“Traitor! Money scavenger! Shame on you!” Shuhei Nishimura, who led Friday’s protest, shouted outside the downtown Tokyo office of the distributor, Unplugged Inc.

He demanded a meeting with the company president, while about 30 protesters held up signs saying “Crash the showing of anti-Japanese film ‘The Cove,’” and urging the Japanese to “be angry.”

Nishimura handed a statement to a company employee, who declined to comment or be identified. Unplugged President Takeshi Kato did not show up.

“We will block the distribution of the movie and we will protect this country,” Nishimura said. “If the country does not protect the life, spirit and pride of its people, we will have to protect them by ourselves.”

The film has not yet been released in Japan, but it will start showing here in June at 20 to 30 theaters nationwide. When it was shown at the Tokyo International Film Festival in October, viewers gave it mixed reviews. Unplugged had said it planned to obscure the faces of the Japanese fishermen in Taiji to protect their privacy.

The documentary, directed by Louie Psihoyos, follows Ric O’Barry, a trainer for the 1960s “Flipper” TV series who says he became an activist because of a suicidal dolphin in his charge. The film team broke into a restricted area to set up cameras that captured the slaughter.

Taiji, the village of 3,500 people, has been hunting dolphins and whales since the early 1600s. It calls itself “Whale Town” and has a massive pair of whale statues looming over the main road. “The Cove” refers to Taiji and its dolphin fishing as “a little town with a really big secret.”

Most Japanese do not eat dolphin meat. Its consumption is limited to a handful of fishing villages where the animal is hunted.

The Japanese government allows about 19,000 dolphins to be killed each year. Taiji hunts about 2,000 dolphins every year for meat—less than other places—but is singled out in part because of its method of herding and killing them near the shore. Some are captured and sold to aquariums and dolphin shows at water parks.

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