Autoethnography research; Animal Welfare in Asia: Taiji Dolphin Slaughter

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Over the next few weeks I am going to be undertaking autoethnography research into the animal plights and the animal rights movement within Asia. To gain a better understanding of the plights and social/ legal reactions and beliefs to these issues. I want to start this research topic by firstly stating I will often hold a biased view due to my strong interest in animal welfare though I will attempt to document my findings in an unbiased manner.

I am starting off by looking at a popular topic; the dolphin slaughter in Taiji Japan. I sat down with my boyfriend and we watched the documentary, The Cove and it left an impression.

The point of autoenthongraphy research is to immerse yourself within the experience, with this film it was not hard to do.  My initial thought was I knew about the slaughter just not the extent that it actually occurs. The Cove produced numerous emotions each resulting in different cultural questions.

I felt fear for these dolphins whom are naturally free within the ocean being herded into the Taiji cove this emotion turns to anger when you see the fishermen harpoon the dolphins similar to their whaling ventures. When the water turned red and you see babies jumping, at one point you see a baby jump at the rocks trying to escape the bloody water of her parents and peers, you feel a hatred for the culture. Then the film contrasts these images with free dolphins jumping and enjoying the ocean, this is was the point I was led to tears for these mammals.

Through all the evidence I cannot understand how these fishermen desiccate these mammals, mammals who are highly intelligent with the possibility of surpassing our own intelligence. These images presented are those of mass murder there was even recordings of the screams. Yet the Japanese Government are hiding it through censorship. This leaves me questioning the legislation in Asian countries regarding animal rights whistle blowers with past activist being sent to prison from petty charges.

What is the real view in Japanese society in regards to the dolphin slaughter? International Whaling Commission representative for Japan in this film stated he could not see what was so special about this species and that it was solving a pest issue; the dolphins are apparently over eating the world’s fish population.  Though what is a massive concern is testing of fish meat within Asian nations, especially dolphin meat which is notorious for high levels of Mercury, what testing is done as currently I am under the impression that there is no national standard.

I am also currently under the assumption that dolphin and whale meat are as common in Japan as cow and pig meat are elsewhere. But what is the social views of these meats and the way they are sourced? Clearly through this film Japanese population are unaware of the source of their food and in some cases it seems they are unsure what they are even eating.

I currently feel enraged at the nation allowing this slaughter to take place, I am feeling further sadden and enraged as this slaughter starts every September, feeling that as I sit here researching that dolphins may be about to face a similar fate in Taiji.

Perhaps when I have a greater grasp on the social norms in society I may understand Asian cultures acceptance of a dolphin slaughter. Though I am intrigued to research their laws and regulations for individuals whom undertake animal activism.

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