TOKYO -- Environmentalists and nationalists held opposing rallies over
the issue of Japan's dolphin and whale hunts in a rare showdown in central
Tokyo on Saturday, leading to angry scenes.
About 50 anti-whaling
activists gathered at a park in the Shibuya shopping district with banners
bearing slogans such as "Stop the cruel dolphin hunt!" while across the
street about 30 nationalists shouted "Get out of Japan!"
accused the environmentalists of undermining Japanese culture and
traditions, saying "environmental terrorists" should be sent to slaughter
The rally was part of demonstrations to be held around the
world this weekend against the killing of dolphins in the Japanese town of
Taiji, according to the organiser, Action for Marine Mammals.
Demonstrations are also planned in cities including London, Sao Paulo,
Vancouver and across the United States, the Tokyo-based group said.
in western Japan, drew global attention after "The Cove", a hard-hitting
film about the annual dolphin hunts there, won the Academy Award for best
documentary in 2010.
Fishermen corral hundreds of dolphins into a
secluded bay, select a few dozen for sale to aquariums and slaughter the
rest for meat. The dolphin hunt takes place over a period of months.
The demonstrators also called for an end to Japan's annual state-sponsored
whaling mission to the Southern Ocean, due to start in the next few weeks.
Japan hunts whales using a loophole in a global moratorium that allows for
so-called "scientific research", although the meat is later sold openly in
shops and restaurants.