Having spent time in Taiji has give me many insights on a multi-faceted, complex conservation issue. Taiji is a prime symbol how humans are disrespecting the ocean’s life, and the ending of the slaughter and life dolphin trade needs to be set as an example for the future conservation of our oceans. While spending time in Japan, none of the Japanese people I spoke to outside of Taiji are aware of the slaughter and issue seems to be completely ignored in politics and national media. The Japanese take great pride in their culture and feel offended by western NGO groups that come to Taiji to tell the Japanese to stop hunting dolphins. These are the traditional ingredients for a conflict, having two opposing partners that do not listen to each other. One of the key resolutions to this issue is engaging with the Japanese public; none of the NGOs working in Taiji had Japanese speaking people on their team; very few of Japanese people I met around Taiji spoke English. This makes the process a lot more complicated than it already is.
In my opinion Japan has to get serious about the international reputational effects (and economical damages) of the dolphin hunt and whaling in relation to the return it gets from these activities. Many western people are starting to form an image about Japan that is unjust for its amazing culture. While Japan traditionaly is a very closed country, it will have to open up more to the world if it wants to maintain it’s position in international economics and politics.
I have a strong feeling that I will return to Taiji in the near future and that there will be a day when all cetaceans in Japan (and worldwide) are protected. I will not rest until this is fact.