Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
I have been receiving quite a few messages asking why Sea Shepherd is calling for a boycott of Japanese products. Other messages are coming from people who want to help with the Sea Shepherd boycott of Japanese products.
There is not, nor has there ever been a Sea Shepherd boycott of Japanese products.
The reason for these messages opposing or supporting “our” boycott is apparently because Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project has made public statements, including on his interview with Katie Couric that the Dolphin Project does not support the boycott of Japanese products and that the Dolphin Project does not condone racism.
The problem with his statement is that there is no organized boycott of Japanese products being promoted by any group that I am aware of. O’Barry’s statements however implied that since the Dolphin Project was not supporting such a boycott that it must be a project of the only other large group involved with working to stop the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji and that is the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians.
This explains the messages that I have been receiving.
It is unclear as to why Ric O’Barry spent so much of the time allotted to him on the Katie Couric show to denounce a boycott of Japanese products when there is no organized program to boycott Japanese products by any group in opposition to the Taiji dolphin drive.
Although Sea Shepherd is not promoting any boycott of Japanese products, it is my position that boycotting products from Japan is not racist as Ric implies. Boycotting is a legitimate form of protest.
The reason that I don’t support a boycott of Japanese products is that it’s impractical, and because I don’t believe the entire nation of Japan should suffer the consequences because a small group of thugs in Taiji are viciously killing dolphins.
Organizing an effective boycott takes a great deal of funding and Sea Shepherd does not have a budget to sustain a long-term effective boycott. If it was a viable tactic we would endorse it.
For those individuals who have chosen to boycott Japanese products as a personal statement of opposition to the slaughter of dolphins, all I can say is that you are free to exercise your power as a consumer to not support products for ethical or political reasons. Doing so is not racist because it is a legitimate response to an activity that is violently inhumane and a threat to the survival of numerous species of dolphins.
A personal boycott of the 2020 Olympics in Japan is also a legitimate exercise to protest whaling and dolphin killing, not to mention the horror of Fukushima.
The Sea Shepherd position however is that Sea Shepherd does not promote or encourage a boycott of Japanese products.
Ric O’Barry and the Dolphin Project have done, and continue to do great work on behalf of the dolphins. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has always supported the Dolphin Project. Ric O’Barry himself has dedicated his life to defending dolphins and although I admire and support him, I must correct this mis-understanding fostered by him that there is an organized boycott of Japanese products. There simply is no such boycott campaign.
It is not racist to oppose the slaughter of dolphins and whales by the Japanese. We also oppose the slaughter of dolphins and whales by the Icelanders, Norwegians, and the Faeroese. We oppose the U.S. Navy using sonar that causes death and injury to whales and dolphins. We do not discriminate when it comes to our opposition of any people, anywhere, inflicting such inhumane treatment to marine life.
The Institute for Cetacean Research in Japan constantly accuses the opposition to whaling and the killing of dolphin killing as being motivated by racism. That is simply a tactic they have been trying to utilize to foster opposition to the groups actively opposing the slaughter.
The Japanese whalers and the Japanese dolphin killers will use any opportunity to justify the brutality of their killing operations.
It is counter-productive to acknowledge their accusations as having any merit.
The slaughter of dolphins in Taiji and of the whales in the Southern Ocean can be ended by continued international opposition to these crimes. We must never surrender the moral high ground we possess to bogus charges of “racism” and “cultural imperialism”
Dolphins and whales are highly intelligent, socially complex, self aware, sentient beings and killing them is murder – plain and simple.