The Cove: Disturbing and Embarassing look at Japanese Dolphin Slaughter

I just finished watching the documentary “The Cove” about the Oceanic Preservation Society’s attempt to secretly document dolphin slaughter in Taji, Japan while evading local authorities and their fisherman’s union. I had known about the documentary since this summer but I never got around to watching it until I saw the South Park episode “Whale Whores” which poked fun at Japan’s obsession with whaling and the environmentalists’ feeble attempts at curbing whaling. Although, references to “The Cove” were vague in that episode, much of the issues explored in both “South Park” and “The Cove” do raise concerns about Japanese whaling policies and how they handle the issues surrounding it.

The team assembled by the filmmakers is impressive given they and the film were funded by a billionaire environmentalist. Nonetheless, the footage caught by the filmmakers is a gruesome look at how dolphins are savagely slaughtered by local fisherman in the name of local tradition and to sell whale meat to a niche market. In addition to criticising the brutal slaughter of dolphins, the film makes a point that much of the dolphin and whale meat available in the Japanese market is heavily tainted with mercury, which makes it unsafe for consumption and increases the risk of neurological damage. What was more surprising was that the Japanese interviewed in the film seem to be either apathetic or disgusted at the idea of even eating dolphin meat, which seems to weaken the cultural justification for dolphin slaughter.

As a result of “The Cove”, the Japanese town of Taiji has received much unwanted attention from environmentalists and foreigners to the point where they have made changes to their traditional dolphin slaughters. The fishermen now are reported to cut the bottlenose dolphin culling, while continue their process of killing less appealing dolphins and whales. Many japanophiles and Japanese right-wing male virgins have condemned “The Cove” as a racist movie for only focusing on Japanese whaling while dolphins and whales are regularly hunted by Iceland and Norway. Although this is a valid point, Japanese whaling has come under greater scrutiny because while Norway and Iceland regularly slaughter dolphins and whales, they are not accused of exceeding international whaling limits, making baseless justifications that whaling is a form of oceanic pest control, hiding their slaughtering techniques from the public and buying support from current or new member-states in the International Whaling Commission.

Some pro-Japan supporters even complain that the movie was unjust because Korea regularly slaughters dog for food and no one complained when China was having issues with their baiji dolphins. This is really a weak point because there are regular complains that Koreans slaughter dogs for food along with countless documentaries on the process, while the issue with baiji dolphins was more of an environmental concern dealing with the destruction of towns, historical sites, ecosystems and the fact that Chinese don’t slaughter their dolphins for food. In any event, I strongly recommend viewing “The Cove” if it is available in stores or online.

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15 thoughts on “The Cove: Disturbing and Embarassing look at Japanese Dolphin Slaughter”

  1. Idiotic. Don’t force your cultural views and opinions on other countries’ inhabitants. This is a big world, you know, not everybody thinks like you.

    1. “In addition to criticising the brutal slaughter of dolphins, the film makes a point that much of the dolphin and whale meat available in the Japanese market is heavily tainted with mercury, which makes it unsafe for consumption and increases the risk of neurological damage. What was more surprising was that the Japanese interviewed in the film seem to be either apathetic or disgusted at the idea or even eating dolphin meat, which seems to weaken the cultural justification for dolphin slaughter.

      Many japanophiles and Japanese right-wing male virgins have condemned “The Cove” as a racist movie for only focusing on Japanese whaling while dolphins and whales are regularly hunted by Iceland and Norway. Although this is a valid point, Japanese whaling has come under greater scrutiny because while Norway and Iceland regularly slaughter dolphins and whales, they are not accused of exceeding international whaling limits, making baseless justifications that whaling is a form of oceanic pest control, hiding their slaughtering techniques from the public and buying support from current or new member-states in the International Whaling Commission.”

      Can you read? And watch “The Cove” before you dismiss Japan’s whaling policies as racially motivated criticisms

  2. Japanese whaling has come under greater scrutiny because while Norway and Iceland regularly slaughter dolphins and whales, they are not accused of exceeding international whaling limits

    Huh? Please enlighten me. When has Japan exceeded international whaling limits?

  3. You’re right; Japan only exempted itself from the commercial ban on minke whale. They also used a scientific research loophole to get around current commercial whaling limits. Its so racist that whale activists only focus on Japan when other countries like Norway and Iceland also hunt whales. Then again, the Japanese whaling industry and the government have done a craptacular job at attracting negative and unwanted attention to their whaling and whaling policies…

    I also wonder if you actually stopped reading the post or even read after you started commenting on the issue with international whaling limits…

    http://weblog.greenpeace.org/whales/2007/11/catching_whales_for_science_is.html

  4. One more ignorant post about an old topic, and you’re just a fish in the ocean of ignorance. It’s not about whales, it’s about cultural ignorance of people like you whose horizon ends at the rim of their bathtub. Go ahead, condemn Japan and go eat a burger. The beef you eat is better than whale-meat. I’m sure that the cow died because of it’s age and noone in the world, not even people from india, will take offense in it.

    1. Did you even read the post or did you simply go on a Japanophilic tirade because you automatically assume anyone who is critical of Japan is an anti-Japan racist?

      Again:

      “In addition to criticising the brutal slaughter of dolphins, the film makes a point that much of the dolphin and whale meat available in the Japanese market is heavily tainted with mercury, which makes it unsafe for consumption and increases the risk of neurological damage. What was more surprising was that the Japanese interviewed in the film seem to be either apathetic or disgusted at the idea or even eating dolphin meat, which seems to weaken the cultural justification for dolphin slaughter.

      Many japanophiles and Japanese right-wing male virgins have condemned “The Cove” as a racist movie for only focusing on Japanese whaling while dolphins and whales are regularly hunted by Iceland and Norway. Although this is a valid point, Japanese whaling has come under greater scrutiny because while Norway and Iceland regularly slaughter dolphins and whales, they are not accused of exceeding international whaling limits, making baseless justifications that whaling is a form of oceanic pest control, hiding their slaughtering techniques from the public and buying support from current or new member-states in the International Whaling Commission.”

      If you can’t read, go back to your anime, manga and let the adults handle controversial issues.

  5. Amid it’s general confusion, this documentary suggests that one of the only reasons Japan still has a whaling industry is due to a sense of belligerence and resistance to western cultural/moral influence (something that I, as the viewer got a sense of being true from watching the attitudes of certain of the individuals captured throughout the film- I’d also site the footage of whalers holding up signs to the cameras on whaling ships- ‘we’re measuring body fat’, etc- as pretty good evidence of this). This does sort of beg the question: why did these clowns think that it would be a good idea to make a film in which a group of self-righteous, narrow minded white people show up and start telling the Japanese how they should behave (in order to comply with western moral standards)? and then to sell it on a massive scale to similarly self-righteous, narrow minded westerners? Why wasn’t the film marketed more towards Japanese people (because they seem to be the ones who ultimately have the power to change the situation in Taiji should they choose to). Why didn’t their ‘crack, ocean’s eleven’ team include any Japanese people? at a few points in the film, there are obviously Japanese people translating on behalf of the film makers (and i’m assuming that the logistics of this operation required the services of at least one pay-rolled Japanese speaker- a ‘fixer’ if you will), why weren’t these individuals featured in any way.

    Anyway, my point (and this is regardless of my own, or anybody’s moral standpoint on the actions portrayed in The Cove), is that this film is counterproductive and will not help curb the whaling industry’s excesses.

    1. It’s an interesting question. Norway openly defies the IWC and goes about whaling as they please whereas Japan simply conducts their whaling in the guise of “scientific research”. It is perhaps this general approach to whaling that makes Japan appear weak to the critics of whaling and therefore an easy target. Norway whales without a care in the world while Japan makes up weak excuses (eg pest control, scientific research, vote buying) to continue their activities.

      The Japanese whaling industry needs to get better public relations when dealing with critics. Having random whalers and bureaucrats deny or harass critics isn’t going to make the problem go away. Ever notice how no one really goes nuts when Norway and Iceland go about their whaling? They slaughter just as much whales as Japan does but their governments and industry do a great job deflecting negative attention away. Something Japan is more than capable of learning from Norway and Iceland.

      I doubt many Japanese care about whaling because they are A) unaware of whaling in Japan, B) are apathetic to the issue in light of the decades long recession or C) because it’s a niche industry.

      The Cove actually made more people aware of the issue. Bitching and moaning about, real or imagined racism in Japan or Japanese whaling, isn’t going to change the issue. Only the Japanese government and their whaling industry can end the cycle of negative attention to their whaling activities.

  6. Your website is like a blonde with a brain. I love it. All jokes aside, very informative post and equaally impressive design.

    1. This is quite possiblely the worst comment I’ve read on here. “Blonde with a brain”, what kind of moron except you would wwrite such a nonsensical thing.

  7. What an awful blog. Hell, blogs like these are why they shouldn’t be allowed to exist. Self righteous ugly white people complaining about animal rights, how annoying.

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