Last night my computer went on the fritz and I lost my entire blog post! I am going to cover yesterday’s events, as well as today.
Yesterday was the meeting with the Mayor of Taiji. I have to make something clear. This meeting was not at all what the world thought it was going to be. How the meeting came to be was because the Mayor of Taiji wanted to speak with my father.
Before we knew it so many people were involved. It was wonderful! So much media attention, Ric and Jeff were attending and a lot of focus was on Taiji. However, Mr. Nakahira was now arranging it all and that was a little strange. But Mr. Nakahira, we were told, is from a political party trying to throw out the Governor of Wakayama (who gives out the Taiji Dolphin Slayers permits). So knowing what we were told went along with everything to see what perspired.
We really did not know what to think of the meeting, because we were not exactly sure what it had become. We were first allowed to prepare five questions that were supposed to be sent in for the translators and for the people participating to think about their answers. We were never given any thing from the Mayor’s office (big surprise).
As the days went on, there were so many more people involved. It was now my dad, Richard O’Barry, Lincoln O’Barry, Jeff Pantakoff, and I. The mayor must have been very intimidated and afraid of the much media, that he tried to back out and cancel the meeting a few days before it, a reliable source told us. He knew that canceling; however, would only bring more attention to this, as we would not leave that one alone.
Let me go through the entire day of the meeting for you… through my eyes at least. Because it was crazy! I really am having a hard time describing it.
Yesterday morning, at 6:30 we drove to the Cove, because we were almost certain that the hunter boats were going out… the weather was too perfect. But we were not sure if they would be so stupid as to do that on the day of the meeting… they are sneaky little snakes.
When we arrived at the Cove, as film crew (with a translator) started to follow us everywhere. We were giving Mr. Steven Nakada (A Japanese man who is with the Japan Solar Energy Council) a tour of the area. They followed us in their van to all the various locations we go to. We all did interviews with the TV station. My dad and I did one together. We told them about how these animals are different, and are like humans. We talked about the toxic meat, and how the people are being lied to. The crew asked me what I thought of the Dolphin slaughter, I told them that I am disgusted. Murdering a life form that is not only more intelligent than ourselves, but are self aware, build relationships, have their own language, play, love, fight, and mourn the death of their family, does not fit in the 21st century, there is no place for it. I also said that if the government spent as much time and money that they are keeping us from seeing, and allowing the fishermen to hinder us, that they could be working on new ways for the fishermen to have different jobs. The entire thing does not make sense to me.
After our interview it was about 8am, and some of us needed to get more camera batteries and I needed to do something on youtube, in case I needed a certain video for the meeting. We told the news crew that they could not follow us to the hotel because the lady there does not like it when news show up and films. They said they would not… but they did. When we got to the hotel I ran up to our room, I heard later that the media refused to leave and said, “Well how do you think the fishermen feel”? My dad said “We are done”. The fact is, when we are on the FU property etc. and we are told to leave, we do. Not to mention the fact that it wasn’t about us being filmed, we don’t care about that, it was upsetting the sweet lady who owns the hotel! Later, the crew came to us and apologized for not listening.
While I was looking for/uploading my video, my dad came in on the phone and said I needed to address what someone had posted on my public facebook. He said to let the world know that SSCS will still be attending, and that Ric backed out. Then he had to leave to finish his phone call… I was so confused. I felt like a deer in headlights! I went to my FB and skimmed Ric O’Barry’s blog entry… and then told people what my dad wanted. I understood Ric’s reasons for not attending the meeting, however since I had not read his entire report in detail I still felt lost! Once I went back to click on the link, so I could read it I realized it was time to go.
Jeff Pantakoff, Steven Kanada, Michael Bailey, the cove guardians, my dad and I met up in the lobby and just went over where everyone was going to be, and what was going on, just some basic review. I remember standing there with all of these accomplished and truly amazing people, and realizing what it was I was going to do. I was about to step into a very real, adult, and media driven situation. I felt honored that these people had the faith in me to handle this situation, and to be the voice for my generation.
Driving there was interesting. I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived. Steven Kanada was talking to me about doing a speech at a university here in Japan, and I am all for the idea!
Driving into the parking lot… wow. We felt like a big juicy fish in the middle of a shark frenzy! All of a sudden this group of 100 or more people turn around and run for our car as we are driving in. People were pushing each other and running around the car, the police were trying to block people off so we could at least drive into the lot. I felt like Lady Gaga, there were so many cameras… It took me like three minutes to get out of my car because people were blocking the doors. Once I did, security officers made a small human wall so we could actually walk into the building. People were whacking each other with their cameras and pushing the police, they were shoving through people and might as well have been climbing on each other. People had little step ladders so they could see above the mob of flashing lights.
We were brought into the building, media trying to follow us in, but being blocked off. Several police officers escorted me to the stairs but I stopped walking because I was not with my dad anymore… they kept trying to get me to come up, but I wasn’t going without my dad. So they got him through the mob with Michael following. We were brought to the second floor where I walked past this room filled with more media, probably about 40 people, and a stage. On the stage where separated tables. There were the Mayor’s and the FU office on stage right and Mr. Nakahira placed himself at the middle table, and we as the pro Dolphin bunch took stage left.
What can I say about the meeting its-self… not much. I am not even sure what went down. Mr. Nakahira talked for almost 40 minutes about how rude Richard O’Barry was and how his meeting was ruined, and that it caused great time issues. Well it wouldn’t have it he didn’t spend 40 minutes talking about it. That is all I have to say about that part of the meeting. During Mr. Nakahira’s grand speech, a reporter stood up and said that they were not there to listen to him complain, but to hear the discussion. Good for him! I wanted to clap, but you can’t do that. So Mr. Nakahira sat down and got mad at some of the media, throwing this one man out. He did eventually re-enter and has been with us all day today! He is a really nice guy who wants to do a story on me, so my dad and I have been talking with him all day, and just hanging out.
But back to what I was saying, Mr. Nakahira got mad at some of the media and this took another 20 minutes. The first hour of this “meeting” was Mr. Nakahira talking about Ric and about media that made him angry. He completely took away from the fact that this meeting was for media to ask questions, and for the mayor and all of us to present ours. The entire thing was only set for two hours! It was very frustrating.
The media started to get mad at Nakahira, because he had the people who were pre-chosen to come send in questions. Nakahira would pick a news station of his favorites and make them ask a pacific question they submitted. They had no choice. People were VERY angry at Nakahira!
I started to look around the room, and I realized that there were drums everywhere! Boxes of drum sticks were back stage, hand drums were lined up against the wall… and these GIANT drums, I’m talking taller than a car were on the main floor. While the FU was explaining the “culture” I kept thinking why not cherish the drumming! I wanted to hear the drums being played… not the tail slaps of a distressed dolphin. That is not music, and it is not culture.
Finally! When we were at the time the meeting was supposed to be done… we started the meeting. All the questions happened in that second hour. We exchanged the questions, and when it came time for my dad to ask his… the Mayor handed the microphone off to someone else to answer. I guess this was the “final straw” for me… I was pissed. My eyes didn’t leave the mayor’s face the entire time his “buddy” answered for him. So when my question came next I said into the microphone “To the Mayor”. He then sat up to answer… “How can Sea Shepherd, My dad, and I help you in moving Taiji forward in a positive way?” The answer I got was “This needs to be from Taiji people, if you are a citizen of Japan and you live in Taiji you can do something about it.” And then silence. Nothing else. This just proves how important it is for the Japanese people, and especially the Taiji people, to stand up and say no more. Overall the meeting was a step in the right direction, because there has never been a meeting with the Mayor of Taiji and anti dolphin hunting activists before, however this particular meeting was very unproductive.
Leaving we were mobbed again, I kid you not… someone was laying on the back of our car and shoving a microphone in my dads face. Enough said, I think.
We all went to the Cove Beach and my dad and I held a press conference. Jeff and Michael joined in soon after and news crews started following different people.
We were on the left beach and Richard O’Barry was on the right said with a group of media. About an hour into the two press conferences Nakahira came to the beach and started SCREAMING at Ric. He was saying that Ric needed to go home, he was a liar, and I have been told (I did not hear this part because I left before Nakahira got more vocal) he was screaming things like “I kill you!.” It was a nut house, and Nakahira was very angry.
A few of us went to go get lunch (because we hadn’t eaten yet) at about 4pm. So I was at the Cove with the media for about 2 hours. My dad stayed another hour and caught up with us at 5 and I gave him some food! My dad, Rex and I drove four hours each way to Osaka and back, to pick up Libby from the airport. So we had a very long day!
But when Rex, Rosie, and Dinielle went to the store, the same media group from the morning (who said they were sorry), they followed us because they were curious about vegetarian food and how we eat. They followed us around the store and we talked about different things we like to cook at home etc.
This morning The boats were in harbor and dolphins were safe! Today was a national holiday here in Japan, and there are still lots of media, so they did not go out. But they are going to tomorrow, we are sure of it. The weather will be perfect for hunting, unfortunately.
Today at the dock the same film crew that followed us to the store were asking us about all the granola bars we had with us! Rex explained a lot about them and how they were natural and good for us and they filmed us eating them. Larabar donated dozens of boxes for us to have here at the Cove because we are in desperate need for a quick breakfast! Thank you so much Larabar!
I need to cut the rest of this short because I have to get up early again tomorrow, and it is really late. I will leave you with a teaser though! Tonight we watched a movie that Suzanne and her husband made about Luna the whale. Please look out for the movie The Whale. In theatres soon.
It really got to me because I was watching how Luna was communicating and my mind kept flashing back to the gutting barge… I was a sobbing mess throughout the entire movie. It is all becoming more real for me… every single day.
For the Animals,
Please remember to read my Dad’s updates on the SeaShepherd website – There are also photos uploaded there, you can’t see anywhere else. And the video footage from the Whale museum is up.
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