Cristen landed in Osaka the evening of November 1st. She was asked to accompany the authorities for secondary questioning after reaching customs. She then was detained in a small room where she was interrogated for over six hours. During the questioning her phone, social media, body and luggage was searched.
Cristen has been an on shore volunteer in the North Californian chapter for 2 years. She has never participated on a previous Sea Shepherd campaign. This was her first time entering into Japan. As with all Cove Guardians, Cristen obeyed all orders by the Japanese authorities while being calm and respectful.
In the recent years, Japan has begun to regularly deny and exclude any Sea Shepherd volunteer from entry into their country. This first began in 2016, when Japan targeted our veteran crewmembers, hoping this would somehow stop our campaign. When their attempt failed they ramped up their harassment of Sea Shepherd including the passing of new laws specifically targeting Sea Shepherd volunteers.
Under these laws our volunteers could face criminal charges, be arrested and deported for acts that they have defined as “terrorism” and “conspiracy”, simply for peacefully taking photos and video. Because of these threats, for the first time in 10 years, no Cove Guardians were present during the 2017/2018 hunting season.
All other NGOs, as well as independent individuals are still allowed to enter the country and travel to Taiji, yet they employ the same exact methods as Sea Shepherd to document the activity at the killing cove.
This season the crew has resolved to face whatever consequences or punishments come their way, as they believe that exposing the truth is more important than their personal freedom.
Cristen was denied entry into Japan for one reason only, being a Sea Shepherd volunteer. This discrimination against her is unjust. She is the second volunteer to be denied entry, Angela a veteran crewmember, was also denied entry on August 31st under the same biased reasoning. Japan is simply trying to prevent our crewmembers from exposing their ruthless and cold-blooded dolphin slaughter for the world to see.
Each year since 2010, with the exception of 2017/2018, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians have been on the ground in Taiji daily throughout the six-month drive hunt season – which spans from September 1 until March – documenting and live streaming every capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales as part of our dolphin protection campaign, ensuring the eyes of the world remain on Taiji’s infamous killing cove. Sea Shepherd was the first organization to expose this atrocity in 2003, when our photographer Brooke MacDonald captured the first horrific images of the dolphin drive.
Our brave volunteers have documented the inextricable link between captivity and the slaughter countless times. In Taiji, dolphin killers and trainers work side-by-side to select the best looking dolphins (those without visible scars) to be sold for captivity. This process occurs simultaneously to the slaughtering, as the newly imprisoned captives must witness the murder of their remaining family members within the cove.
Those taken captive are transported to Taiji Harbor’s holding pens or are immediately taken to one of three captive
facilities in Taiji. Some dolphins are ultimately sold to other aquariums in Japan or overseas to end up in China, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
This latest setback will not falter our efforts to continue the Cove Guardian campaign. For each denied volunteer another shall take its place, as we continue to shed a light on the barbaric captivity process in Taiji.