Japan’s Growing Animal Rights Movement

By Hans Peter Roth
Cove Monitor
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

On Sunday, we participated in an anti-fur demonstration in Tokyo.  Several hundred Japanese people marched against animal cruelty from Yoyogi Park across the famous Shibuya Pedestrian crossing and then along a street circuit back to Yoyogi Park.  The demo was very well organized.  The participants were enthusiastic and performed impressively with their slogans on loudspeakers and hundreds of banners, posters and signs, drawing attention from literally tens of thousands of pedestrians.

It was really moving to see these people walking into areas around Shibuya that I first saw when I came to join Ric’s dolphin celebration event on September 1st, 2010.  There is change happening here.  And this is really remarkable in a country where people are raised to remain silent and not be critical of almost anything.  Just before the “No Fur” demo there was another march against nuclear energy, where the demonstrators actually seemed to have fun doing it.  It was almost like a Samba March, with lots of drums and other percussive instruments.

To us, these movements are hopeful signs of growing awareness regarding issues like the environment or animal cruelty.  And the “No Fur” demo is also a hopeful sign for the dolphins around Japan, as most of these people would obviously also oppose dolphin and porpoise hunting.  Speaking of which – there will be an anti-dolphin-hunting demo in Tokyo on November 24th, organized by Japanese dolphin lovers!


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About Ric O'Barry

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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.

In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.

From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.

Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.

O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.

Author: Ric O'Barry


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