TOKYO – Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum was in a remote Japanese fishing village Monday to protest against its annual dolphin hunt.
Sorum, who now leads his own group, is the latest celebrity to join the increasingly global campaign to stop the dolphin kill in Taiji, a quaint fishing village in central Japan made famous by the Academy Award-winning 2009 film about the hunt called “The Cove.”
The movie depicts how dolphins are herded into a cove and speared by fishermen for their meat. The fishermen say the hunt is part of their village’s tradition and call Western critics who eat other kinds of meat hypocritical.
The film features Ric O’Barry, who trained dolphins for the 1960s “Flipper” TV series and has devoted the latter part of his life to protecting dolphins and keeping them in nature.
Sorum arrived in Taiji on Sept. 1, the day the annual dolphin hunt begins, with O’Barry and dozens of Japanese and Western conservationists.
“Like a bad nightmare, I’m watching it almost like a twilight zone, surreal, looking into my eyes in complete disbelief – what’s going on in front of me,” Sorum said, speaking by phone from Taiji after witnessing the hunt.
Dolphin and whale meat is considered an eccentric delicacy in Japan, though not all Japanese eat it and not all Japanese know about the hunts. Some nationalist groups have used the controversy to highlight their own message, accusing O’Barry and other Westerners of interfering with Japanese culture.
Over the weekend, nationalists in Taiji used loudspeakers to broadcast their message about the right to kill dolphins, and held a barbecue, presumably of whale or dolphin meat, at the cove, where Sorum and others opposing the hunt were watching.
“Our work here is about supporting the Japanese activists,” O’Barry said. “You only hear about the blood and the guts, and it’s being created by less than 50 men. It’s not even the whole town of Taiji, and certainly not the country of Japan.”
Sorum, who has also played with Velvet Revolver, said he hoped to organize a rock concert in Tokyo around the theme of “celebrating the dolphin,” bringing together Japanese and Western musicians, including his new band, Kings of Chaos.
“I’m going to bring a bunch of heavyweights, big rock stars,” said Sorum. “The main thing is to get the Japanese kids.”
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