Many Japanese people are unaware of the dolphin slaughters taking place in one small pocket of Japan. The Cove, the documentary which exposed the practice to many outside Japan, was screened at only a handful of cinemas in Japan. Working with Japanese organisations, Australia for Dolphins is raising awareness of dolphin hunting in Japan, with the hope that this will lead to greater pressure on the Japanese government from within the country.
One of our recent collaborations is with a grass-roots organisation in Japan called Fukushima Kids Dolphins Camp ('FKDC'). The FKDC was created in 2014 by Tetsuo Nakahara and Toru Fujita to help sick kids recovering from the Fukushima disaster, as well as foster a love and respect for wild dolphins and the environment.
As a result of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, many local families were exposed to harmful levels of radiation. Because they can’t move from their homes, they are forced to stay in the town and keep the windows closed. Children can’t play outside and obesity levels have soared. Sadly, over 100 children have also developed thyroid cancer as a result of the high-level radiation exposure.
The FKDC was created to try and offset this devastation. It gives children much-needed respite and a chance to play outside, without fear of being exposed to radiation. Not only this, but the camp has the added benefits of raising awareness about dolphins and encouraging families not to visit aquariums. Japan has close to 100 aquariums (more than any other country in the world), and many of the dolphins are sourced from the Taiji drive hunts. Providing Japanese families with alternative ways to view and appreciate dolphins is vital to AFD's strategic plan to bring the dolphin hunts to an end.
Just off the coast of Tokyo, there is an island oasis called Mikura. Mikura Island is lucky enough to have a pod of around 130 resident bottlenose dolphins and the Mayor has even named the wild dolphins official citizens. This island paradise serves as the backdrop to the camp, where for five days children affected by the disaster hike, watch and swim with wild dolphins. The camp instils in Japanese parents and children a love for dolphins and a lifelong respect for nature. This in turn will help to raise awareness about why the dolphin hunts in Taiji are so cruel and destructive to Japan's reputation.
With your help, Australia for Dolphins is working together with the FKDC so many more of these camps can be hosted in the future. To ensure other camps go ahead, please donate generously to the FKDC here and share this wonderful project with your friends.