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Japan dolphin hunt town meets with activists

By JAY ALABASTER, Associated Press

TAIJI, Japan - An unprecedented meeting between conservationists and leaders of the dolphin-hunting village depicted in the Oscar-winning film "The Cove" ended in bitter disagreement Tuesday, failing to bring the sides any closer.

The carefully organized parley in Taiji was given a jolt before it even started Tuesday when Ric O'Barry, the dolphin savior star of the movie, said he would boycott the meeting due to "severe restrictions on the Japanese and international media."

Taiji's hunt each year draws a motley group of protesters who videotape the slaughter and occasionally scuffle with local fishermen. This season - the first since the Oscar was awarded - the attention has been particularly intense, and the usually unresponsive town leaders agreed to a discussion at the town's community center.

But the two-hour meeting was filled with acrimony from the start, and ended up being fruitless.

The village fisherman defended the hunt as part of a centuries-long tradition, pointing out that Westerners kill other animals for food. Activists countered that the killings are barbaric - and that dolphin meat is laced with dangerous toxins...

Link to Media article (AFP) (Japanese)

BREAKING NEWS FROM TAIJI: Event organizers break promise, limit media, Ric walks away.

Statement of Non-Participation


The reasons I will not participate are:

Mayor Sangen has broken his promise by trying to interfere with the Japanese and international media representatives right to report to the Japanese public. He has ordered severe restrictions on the Japanese and international media representatives ability to freely cover this event。

I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not support any organization which is calling for boycotting Japan to save the Taiji dolphins. I am opposed to any such boycott. My being here has been an “anti-boycott”.

The reason I came here to Taiji this time was that I was promised to be able to have an honest and freewheeling discussion with Mayor Sangen, with full, free, and unfettered accessibility for all interested Japanese and international media people. I was expecting and looking forward to a frank dialogue on how the dolphin hunt and the sale of toxic mercury-contaminated dolphin meat to the Japanese public can be terminated, while guaranteeing the financial livelihoods of the Taiji dolphin fishermen and their families.

Mayor Sagen tried to stop “The Cove” from being shown in Japanese movie theaters. He did everything possible to stop the Japanese people from having a chance to learn about what is happening in Taiji.

I just learned that Mayor Sangen has repeatedly met secretly with representatives of one of the organizations that tried to stop Japanese people from having a chance to see “The Cove” by threatening Japanese movie theater owners and the Japanese distributor of “The Cove”. These are the very same people who tried and are still trying to stifle free speech.

This “Conference” has turned out to be a total sham. I will not take part in it in any way. I will “boycott” this whole disgraceful set-up.

My statement speaks for itself.

I am now leaving this farce and going over to the place that brought me to Taiji in the first place, the Cove.

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