A Bizarre Display of Police Authority in Taiji, Japan
Events unfolding today in Taiji are beyond understanding. Five Cove Guardians from three nations are there monitoring the dolphin killers and dolphins in captivity. A gang of Japanese nationalists showed up at the cove this morning and when they saw the Guardians the nationalists reacted violently. The nationalists’ reaction is not surprising. What is surprising is the police reaction to the event.
The police, who supposedly have authority and weapons, let the nationalists act against the Guardians in ways that would assuredly get Guardians arrested if we treated the dolphin killers the same way. Again, we are not particularly surprised by this double standard and have come to expect it.
What is baffling is how the police later handled the matter. The police told Melissa, the Cove Guardian leader, that the Guardians provoked the police by having gone swimming in the cove earlier this week. In other words, the police are treating us the way police sometime blame a rape victim for having worn a short skirt.
Later, the policemen’s pleas to the Cove Guardians to stay away from the cove because of the nationalists began to reveal the real concern. The police are afraid of the nationalists. How can this be?
The Guardians returned to the cove parking lot and the police became very animated. We are not breaking the law; the nationalists are breaking the law. Then the Guardians learned that the nationalists had gone to the hotel looking for the Guardians. I spoke to the police leaders by phone and asked why they were afraid of the nationalists and encouraged them to do their jobs. The police leaders had nothing to say.
The nationalists returned to the cove and the police forced the Cove Guardians into their cars and out of Taiji. Then things became truly bizarre. The nationalists started chasing the police cars that were leading and pushing the Cove Guardian vehicles. At times there were as many as 10 vehicles in a high-speed convoy traveling south out of Taiji. Sirens were blaring and lights were flashing. It was clear that the nationalists were controlling the situation.
The convoy pulled into the large police compound in Kushimoto. The police locked the Cove Guardian vehicles behind gates. We do not know where the nationalists went. The Cove Guardians are in the police station and at this moment (3:45 pm in Japan on March 12, 2012) we have no communication with them.
We will provide updates as this day continues to unfold in Japan.
Cove Guardian Campaign Coordinator
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society