Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Australian Town Ends Sister-City Relationship with Japanese Village of Taiji

Every year in Japan, there is a dolphin slaughter close to the small village of Taiji. Animal activists accuse Japan of slaughtering some 2,000 dolphins every year in the waters near Taiji. The dolphins are driven close to the shore then hacked to death by waiting villagers. This particular cull is the subject of the recently-released US documentary called “The Cove”. The filmmakers covertly recorded dolphins being killed near the village.

The documentary turned out to be so disturbing to so many people that the remote Australian town of Broome and all the councillors were deluged with mail – electronic mail, snail mail, local mail, national mail and international mail. The mayor, Graeme Campbell, says one day they received 5,000 emails.

Japanese fishermen ride a boat loaded with slaughtered dolphins in the harbour of Japanese village, Taiji.

The decision to end the sister-city relationship wasn’t taken lightly. Broome and Taiji have historical ties to one another. The link between the two of them dates back to the late 1800s when Japanese migrants came to Australia to pioneer Broome’s pearl diving industry.

"It's a sad day for Broome, given the historical and cultural contribution made by many people from Japan to the town and the number of people living here who still have relatives in Taiji," he told AFP.

"It's very disheartening and sad for those people. It was a unanimous decision by council; none of us can condone the slaughter."

He said with the outpouring of protest letters after the documentary aired there were concerns the links to Taiji could lead to visitors avoiding Broome.

"That was a consideration that was taken in when councillors were examining the issue," Campbell said.

He went on to say that if Taiji discontinued the dolphin hunt, Broome would be delighted to re-establish the sister-city relationship. "I have no doubt that they (Taiji) will be extremely saddened and disappointed by the decision," he said. "Whether or not it has any effect is up to themselves," he added.

Video of radio interview with Louie Psihoyos, the film's director. Interesting stuff, secrets revealed and eyes opened.

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