The warning from police, who ordered Cove Guardians to report to the police station under threat of arrest, is an intimidation tactic and an attempt by Japan to hide the capture and slaughter of dolphins.

File photo: A pod of bottlenose dolphins swims frantically during selection for captivity. Photo: Sea Shepherd
File photo: A pod of bottlenose dolphins swims frantically during selection for captivity. Photo: Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s volunteer Cove Guardians have been threatened with arrest by Japanese police for their peaceful efforts to document and expose the brutal capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales in Taiji, Japan’s infamous killing cove.

On Thursday, Dec. 17 (Japan time), Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardian volunteers of Dolphin Defense Campaign Operation Henkaku were ordered by Taiji authorities to report to the police station immediately, under threat of arrest. Once there, the Sea Shepherd volunteers were advised that their reports posted to the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian social media pages – describing the capture and confinement of dolphins taken in Taiji’s drive hunt and the conditioning of the dolphins by trainers to perform tricks for food – are in violation of Japanese defamation law.

Sea Shepherd and the organization’s Cove Guardians have been told by authorities not to “mischaracterize” the dolphin trainers and hunters, and that if they do so, they will be subject to legal action and possible arrest.

Sea Shepherd believes that, just like Japan’s refusal to allow many returning Cove Guardian volunteers to enter the country, this response from police is an attempt to intimidate Sea Shepherd and hide the actions of Taiji’s hunters and trainers.

Operation Henkaku is Sea Shepherd’s sixth consecutive season of its Taiji Dolphin Defense Campaign, in which the organization and its volunteers have abided by Taiji and Japanese law while monitoring the drive hunt, which takes place for six months each year in Taiji, typically spanning from September 1 until March.

“Sea Shepherd is now in our sixth consecutive season in Taiji and we have shown that we are committed to adhering to the laws of Taiji and Japan – our goal, as always, is to bring an end to the capture and slaughter of cetaceans,” said David Hance, Sea Shepherd Campaign Coordinator.

“I suppose our photos and footage of what takes place in Taiji do not even really need to be accompanied by words – the images speak for themselves. Sea Shepherd is fortunate that our dedicated followers and supporters who watch our Cove Guardian live stream have their own eyes, ears and compassionate minds – and the freedom to write and express how they feel about what dolphins and small whales are enduring in Taiji. From here forward, you may look at the photos and videos that we post and come up with your own descriptions of what you are seeing and decide what you think of the people who are perpetrating these horrific acts upon innocent wild dolphins and whales,” added Hance.

Approximately 234 cetaceans have been slaughtered and 59 have been taken captive to date this season in Taiji. Sea Shepherd maintains that as the demand for dolphin meat sinks to an all-time low, it is the global demand for captive cetaceans that allows the drive hunt to continue.

Operation Henkaku
Visit our 
Operation Henkaku
site for more information.

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