UK & World News
Ambassador To Japan In Dolphin Death Protest
America's new ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, has upset local sensitivities by tweeting about the "inhumaneness" of a traditional dolphin hunt.
The diplomat, who took up the appointment in November, made her comments about an event that takes place annually in the Japanese village of Taiji.
The ambassador tweeted: "Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG (US Government) opposes drive hunt fisheries."
Every year, fishermen in Taiji corral hundreds of dolphins in a secluded bay, select a few dozen for sale to aquariums and marine parks and stab the rest to death for meat.
Activists from the militant environmental group Sea Shepherd are among those protesting against the event, which usually takes place in September. They have streamed live footage.
A petition has been launched by Change.org demanding Mrs Kennedy, who is John F Kennedy's last surviving daughter, take action to stop the Taiji "slaughter".
The event drew worldwide attention in 2010 when it became the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove.
The town's fishermen defend the hunt as a cultural tradition, and The Cove was met by protests from right-wing activists when it was screened in Japan in 2010.
Since the film was made, the town has stepped up security to prevent confrontations between activists and local people.
A fishing industry official, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP news agency that the outside world had no right to interfere in Japan's traditions.
He said: "We've got our lives. We can't simply nod (to protests) and end centuries of our tradition.
"If you want to talk about cruelty, you couldn't eat cows, pigs or any other living creatures."
He said there was no bloodshed and the sea did not turn red, unlike scenes in The Cove.
One Japanese tweeter @somtamtomyam said in response to Ms Kennedy's tweet: "Eskimo, Canadian eat seals. Aussie eat kangaroos, Korean & Chinese eat dogs, Danish eat #dolphins. Why ppl only blame Japan?"
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