Domestic Japanese opposition to the now infamous “traditional” dolphin hunting the town of Taiji is known for has experienced a considerable upsurge, thought to be due to the influence of “The Cove.”
In fact Taiji now appears to be the major issue facing its backwater prefecture of Wakayama – the prefectural government reports complaints about the fishing of dolphins are now the most numerous type of letter it receives, making up some 20% of the total and dwarfing the number of letters about such humdrum subjects as prefectural administration and roads, the other major topics of correspondence.
Fortunately for Wakayama politicians, it looks unlikely they will have to do anything in response – most of the criticism comes from other parts of Japan, and the prefecture itself is still best known for supplying much of the nation’s mikan and plum crop.
Prior to the release of “The Cove” it appears few Japanese were even aware that dolphins were eaten in Japan – hardly surprising considering the tiny scale of the catch or the sheer insignificance of a rural fishing town of some 3,000 inhabitants, tucked away on the coast of a prefecture of only a million.
Though Taiji has been defiant in the face of international and domestic criticism, it seems economic factors are dooming the dolphin meat industry – dolphin is only eaten in a few localities, and the fact that the meat is barely edible due to heavy metal contamination has meant steadily increasing restrictions on sale and use due to health concerns, frustrating the town’s dubious ambitions of becoming a dolphin meat processing hub.