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US ambassador to Japan causes stir over dolphin culling comment

Publication Date : 23-01-2014


US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy has provoked a sharp rebuttal from Japanese lawmakers for her tweet condemning the “inhumaneness” of the annual cull of dolphins.

Kennedy, who has been the ambassador for about two months, tweeted on Friday that she was “deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries.” The USG in the tweet refers to the United States government.

Her tweet was in response to the annual practice of herding dolphins into a cove in Taiji, Japan, where they are captured or killed.

Marine wildlife conservation group Sea Shepard reported on its website that on Thursday, more than 250 bottlenose dolphins were driven into the cove, where about 51 were captured for captivity. Most of the larger remaining dolphins will be killed for consumption.

This annual slaughter gained international attention after a 2009 Academy Award winning documentary – titled The Cove - was released.

Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters at a news conference on Monday that dolphin fishing is one of the “traditional fishing forms” in Japan and is “carried out appropriately in accordance with the law”.

He added that dolphins are not under the control of the International Whaling Commission but are the “responsibility of each country”.

On Twitter, Kennedy’s message has not gone unnoticed. It was retweeted 3,435 times, and some angry netizens have left comments accusing the ambassador of hypocrisy for not condemning the culling of sheep and cows in the US.

Others have gone as far as to accuse the US of taking innocent lives of children in the Middle East, calling that “much more inhumane”.

On Tuesday, the US Department of State’s deputy spokesman Marie Harf told reporters that “the US does remain committed to the global moratorium on commercial whaling” and is “concerned with both the sustainability and the humaneness of the Japanese dolphin hunts”.

She added that the US has been clear on its position on the matter and that Kennedy was “expressing our view that we’ve made public for a long time”.


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