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Hunters Kill 41 Dolphins in Japan Cull Decried by Kennedy

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- More than 40 bottlenose dolphins were killed during an annual hunt in Japan, the conservation group Sea Shepherd said, four days after U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy criticized the cull.

A total of 93 animals were taken from the ocean in the past six days by hunters in the coastal town of Taiji, and 41 of them were killed yesterday, Sea Shepherd activists known as the Cove Guardians said on an official Facebook page.

Kennedy, who took up the post of ambassador to Japan in November, and singer Yoko Ono Lennon are among those who have spoken out against this year’s hunt. Environmental groups decry the annual dolphin slaughter, depicted in 2009’s Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” as inhumane, while Japan defends it as a cultural tradition.

“Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive-hunt dolphin killing,” Kennedy said in a post on Twitter on Jan. 18, referring to the method by which the animals are herded into a cove before being killed. The U.S. government opposes drive-hunt fisheries, she said.

“It’s sensible to respect the position of others,” Wakayama prefecture governor Yoshinobu Nisaka told reporters yesterday. “It’s a little illogical to speak about abuse just because dolphins are being killed.”

Traditional Fishing

More than 130 dolphins herded into the cove this year were driven back out to sea, Sea Shepherd said. Many of them won’t survive due to injuries, according to the group.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Jan. 20 called dolphins “important marine resources” that should be used sustainably.

“Hunting dolphins is one of our country’s traditional forms of fishing, and it is carried out appropriately in accordance with regulations,” Suga said.

The post from Kennedy follows the recent comments by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s December visit to the Yasukuni shrine that honors wartime leaders, the first by a sitting prime minister since 2006. The U.S. was “disappointed” that Japan’s leadership took actions that would exacerbate regional tensions, the embassy said in statement on its website Dec. 26.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terje Langeland in Tokyo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at

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