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Originally published February 7 2014

Barbaric Japanese stage annual dolphin hunt for fun

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A longtime Japanese tradition of hunting and slaughtering dolphins for sport has come under fire from the West for its barbarically low view of this highly intelligent animal species. The U.K.'s Guardian reports that the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, recently held a press conference after making disparaging comments about the inhumanity that she believes is driving the killing spree.

It was the subject of the award-winning 2009 documentary The Cove, which takes place near Taiji, a small fishing village in western Japan exposed for a ritual that, while a major part of its local economy, involves extreme cruelty toward marine mammals. Those who participate in this annual hunting tradition see nothing wrong with it, but the West sees things differently.

"Deeply concerned by inhumaneness [sic] of drive hunt dolphin killing," read a public "tweet" posted to the social media site Twitter by Ambassador Kennedy recently. "USG opposes drive hunt fisheries," it added, referring to the U.S. government's stance on corralling dolphins into coves for the purpose of mass-murdering them.

The U.S. State Department has indicated its support for Kennedy's comments about the dolphin hunt, which Japanese officials insist is a longtime cultural pastime that Westerners simply will not understand. But this message has reportedly been confusing to many authorities in Japan, who see it as inherently hypocritical.

"[W]e live on the lives of cows and pigs," stated Yoshinobu Nisaka, governor of the Wakayama Prefecture in Japan where one of the dolphin hunts recently took place. "It is not appropriate to say only dolphin hunting is inhumane."

Joining the chorus of disapproval is Yoko Ono, the famous Japanese artist and peace activist, who recently published an open letter calling for an end to dolphin hunting. In her letter, Ono chastised Taiji, the cove village most known for the heinous practice of dolphin killing, urging it to put an end to the tradition immediately.

"I understand how you must feel about the one-sidedness of the West to be angry at your traditional capture and slaughter of dolphins," wrote Ono. "[But] think of this situation from the point-of-view of the big picture," she added, noting that the future of Japan depends upon the country's willingness to renounce its formerly destructive ways and move forward.

Continuing the practice, she stated, "will give an excuse for big countries and their children in China, India, and Russia to speak ill of Japan."

More than 22,000 dolphins, porpoises killed every year during Japanese 'drive hunt'

To put it all into perspective, the methods currently used to kill dolphins during these horrific "drive hunts" are still so inhumane that they are illegal to use on cows and other types of cattle. And up until very recently, according to CNN, hunters would actually stab and spear dolphins by the masses after luring them to the shoreline.

"In practice, the hunters splash around through the bloody water wielding their knives among the fully conscious, thrashing, squealing dolphins who have been trapped in the shallows and are being executed among their family and friends," writes Carl Safina for CNN, noting that as many as 22,000 dolphins and porpoises die this way every year in Japan.

"This killing method... would not be tolerated or permitted in any regulated slaughterhouse process in the developed world," added a group of veterinarians and behavioral scientists who recently watched an undercover video recording of the slaughtering process.

You can learn more about dolphin slaughtering in Japan by checking out the following study published last year in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science:

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