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Taiji and the Faroes: Sister Cities or Blood Brothers?

| Mark J. Palmer
Topics: Dolphins, Grindadrap, Pilot Whales, Slaughter, Taiji, Japan

We continue to see political action on the part of Taiji and Japanese authorities to try to justify their continued slaughter of dolphins and whales to a skeptical world.

Now, Taiji has announced that they are seeking a sister-city relationship with the town of Klaksvik in the Faroe Islands, home of the regular slaughter of hundreds of pilot whales, in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Interestingly, there is no indication from the Faroe Islands that the sister-city relationship has been consummated.   According to Kyodo News, “Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen is scheduled to visit the Faroe Islands from Aug. 22 with officials of the Fisheries Agency and sign a sister-city agreement together with Klaksvik Mayor Jogvan Skorheim, officials said.”

Kyodo News claims these two towns are the only ones in the world that practice drive hunts for dolphins and/or pilot whales.  This is not quite true.  In the Solomon Islands, there are still villages there that do drive hunts for dolphins.

Nonetheless, both Taiji and the Faroe Islands have been in the spotlight for their slaughters, which have been filmed repeatedly, demonstrating extreme cruelty to intelligent dolphins and whales.  Activists have attended the hunts, protesting the slaughters, as have many governments over the years.

Mayor Sangen has been mayor of Taiji for several decades, cutting off all communication with Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) on the subject of dolphin slaughter and our offers to help develop alternatives, such as eco-tourism and sustainable fishing.  Mayor Sangen and his allies run the Taiji Whale Museum, which brokers wild dolphins caught in the dolphin drive hunts to aquariums in Japan and around the world.  He is also constantly proposing different tourist proposal focused on bringing in tourists to swim with dolphins and enjoy dolphin meat.

“Their partnership is aimed at boosting the voices of whaling communities amid rising pressure from anti-whaling groups,” Kyodo News noted.

The towns make the lame claim that their dolphin hunting is “sustainable,” despite the fact that Taiji’s dolphin quotas are going unfilled.  In fact, they have added on two additional dolphin species this year to up their kill rate.

Taiji is also sister city with Broome, Australia.  Local Australian activists working with IMMP led the Broome town council to drop their relationship with Taiji, but local opposition resulted in a reinstatement of the sister city relationship.  The Broome town council has refused to carry through with their own proposals to encourage Taiji to end the dolphin slaughter.