Japan defends annual dolphin hunt in Taiji cove

In this Sept. 2, 2010 file photo, fishermen drive bottle-nose dolphins into a net during their annual hunt off Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan. A Japanese government spokesman defended an annual dolphin hunt Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, two days after U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy tweeted tweeted that she was deeply concerned by the inhumanity of the practice. AP Photo

TORONTO – A government spokesman has defended an annual dolphin hunt in Japan’s infamous Taiji cove after U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy said she was “deeply concerned” by the inhumanity of the practice.

In a news conference Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said dolphin fishing in Japan is carried out appropriately in accordance with the law.

READ MORE: 250 dolphins held in Japan’s infamous Taiji cove

On Friday, Kennedy—daughter of the late President John Kennedy—said the U.S. government opposes such fishing and tweeted the following:

Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries.

— キャロライン・ケネディ駐日米国大使 (@CarolineKennedy) January 18, 2014

Public outcry on social media continues as hundreds of dolphins are being held in captivity since Thursday night.

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READ MORE: Slaughter of dolphins begins in Japan’s Taiji cove despite criticism

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says at least five separate pods of Bottlenose dolphins were driven into Taiji’s cove last week and the dolphins have had “nothing to eat for more than 72 hours.”

The organization says the pods includes over 250 dolphins, the largest pod to be driven into the cove in several years. According to The Guardian, U.S. conservationists say some of the mammals will be held in permanent captivity or will be killed for meat.

The dolphins struggle with all remaining strength as they’re taken captive.They want to swim free again. #tweet4taiji

— Sea Shepherd USA (@SeaShepherd_USA) January 20, 2014

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The fishermen say the hunt is part of their village’s tradition and call Western critics who eat other kinds of meat hypocritical.

Using the hashtag #tweet4taiji , critics turned to social media to express their outrage, including comedian Ricky Gervais.

URGENT: 250 bottle nose dolphins in Taiji cove now. #tweet4taiji please stop the slaughter. RT. Thank You.

— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 17, 2014

Last September, former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum was in the remote Japanese fishing village protesting against the annual dolphin hunt.

READ MORE: Fight to stop Japanese dolphin hunt gets help from former Guns N’ Roses drummer

The ongoing global campaign to stop the dolphin kill in Taiji garnered worldwide attention after the 2009 Academy Award-winning film about the hunt called The Cove.


– With files from The Associated Press