Taiji, Japan Blogs

Unproductive Meeting

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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,

Elora Malama

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.

To subscribe to my blog please post a comment and ask for email updates.

Check out Rex Ray’s blog and Leah’s Blog, please!


27 thoughts on “Unproductive Meeting”

  1. Great post Elora!
    Thanks for filling us in on the meeting!
    All that media attention you had to endure while difficult for you was indeed very good for the Dolphins!
    Thank you for putting yourself on the frontlines of the Dolphin cause!
    You are indeed a wonderful spokeswoman for these lovely sentiens creatures of the sea.♥
    And thank you to all the Taiji activists fro being there for the Dolphins.
    The word is spreading ~ Do not spend money to attend captive dolphin shows or pay to swim with captive dolphins. This only encourages the continuation of the Dolphin slaughter and live Dolphin slavery.

  2. Thank you so much for this update. I know you must be so tired. You are such an amazing writer, as I read this it felt like I was there with you. Sounds crazy, but at least the media could get to Taiji to cover this very important story. I hope the Japanese people, especially in Taiji will realize what these fishermen are doing is so wrong.
    Take care and I pray that tomorrow isn’t a killing day.

  3. I hope you are sleeping soundly and tomorrow is a day with no hunter boats and no dolphins! Hopefully we can catch up later today. Your reporting of the events made me laugh, I cannot believe someone was in the backseat of the car! Wacky!! You must have felt like the paparazzi had invaded Taiji. That said… I hope they do and wish a slew of Hollywood celebs would join you all… that would really garner some attention!!

    So Hollywood! Where are you? Is no one shooting a movie in the vicinity of Japan that could take 3 days off and head to The Cove?

    Love you!

  4. Hi Elora, Tomorrow is Worldwide Save the Whale Day and my school has given me permission to have the day off to go with other sea shepherds and protest at the Japanese Embassy in Brisbane Australia. Captain Paul will be there too. I am going to try and ask everyone there one question and that is why is it that us kids have the solution and yet adults wont listen to us. solution is stop killing whales and dolphins and then everyone can go home and be with their families. You, your dad, Captain Paul, those that go out to sea for 4 months. even the whalers and dolphin hunters. they must have families too.

    Thank you for you daily reports. and i send you whale hugs and dolphin kisses

    PS give your dad a hug for me too. Tell him I said he is a giant teddy bear. hehe

  5. thanks for the update and report on yesterday’s events at the meeting Elora, it’s really good to hear exactly what happened, such a shame it turned into a farce but at least the media seem to be listening a little more

    1. Hi Elora, I have spoken to Steven Thompson a while ago and have covered footage about the oceans and the likes for my animal rights show. If you have skype would you be willing to do an interview about your observations. We are broadcasting globally from the UK



  6. Thank you Elora for taking the time to do this! I can relate to how sad it must be as everytime I see a picture or a video of a dolphin, I am engulfed in utter sadness about the horrific slaughter. Taiji, Japan does not speak for all of Japan, I am certain. I hope ALL Japanese people who are saddened, sickened, outraged and embarrassed by their fellow countrymen come forward and Protest these senseless Murders. JAPAN where are YOU!? We need YOU to be the voice of Japan so the world knows that Japan does not condone this tragedy. The world is Watching Taiji, Japan… and it doesn’t like what it sees. Bravo Elora.

  7. It was me who posted on your facebook about Ric, and by doing so I never meant to imply to your fb followers that SSCS was not attending. That particular day, as I do every day, I checked ALL the online outlets for up-to-date news on the daily events in Taiji.

    Once I came upon the SJD’s blog and saw Ric’s post about not attending the meeting, it was startling, to say the least. I felt the need to let others know, who might not have heard this important news yet.

    While there are only a few Cove Guardians on the ground taking action in Taiji, there are thousands of people around the world that while can’t be present with you, that are there with you in spirit. And this new “underground online community” that has formed, mainly through the daily exposure of Cove Guardians’ blogs and forums (which has become a highly effective campaign), are here to help in anyway we can (online postings, forwardings, petitions, letter writing, phone calls, etc).

    So by posting Ric’s news on your facebook, I was only trying to include others in on this development and again, was not trying to imply that SSCS was not attending. I never thought that you, of all people (actually being on the ground there in Taiji) were not privy to the information first and I apologize for any effect it had on your busy day.

  8. oohhh elora, i love you!!!! (what happened to all the dumb blonde moments?–you grew up and left them in seattle i guess) hug my little brother for me, love aunt jeannie

  9. Awesome post, Elora. You did great! It would’ve been hard for me to keep my mouth shut too when the mayor totally disregarded your Dad’s question. Speaking of your Dad, I visited his blog today and was completely disgusted by the whale meat being sold at Circle K. Being a resident in Southern California, we visit Nevada often, and there are Circle K’s everywhere! So I wrote them an email telling them how they’re aiding in the continued illegal destruction of whales and the poisoning of the Japanese people. I also told them we will no longer frequent their stores as long as they continue to carry any whale or dolphin meat. If anyone else wants to tell them how appalled you are, here’s the link:


    Don’t get discouraged, Elora. It is A step, albeit small, but it’s something. It’s really unfortunate that Mr. Nakahira took up so much time though. I just hope that wasn’t a stunt he had planned from the get-go. It’s hard to believe he was that upset just because Ric O’Barry did not attend. It just makes me question his motive in all of this. Maybe he’s looking for the publicity? I don’t know the whole story, but it just appears that he came out of the woodwork as soon as the cove garnered all the publicity. And I’m sure his going off on Ric O’Barry made the news. Everyone loves a train-wreck. And that to me, is taking away from the importance of what the meeting was intended for- ending the annihilation of dolphins. Maybe this is his way of adding people to his 2-member party? Anyway, just thoughts. Thank you for keeping us so informed. It really does feel like we’re right there with you. Pray tomorrow is not an awful day.

  10. Dear Elora, Thank you so very much for your report on the meeting. I cannot say that I’m surprised at any of the mayor’s behavior, but I will tell you that I’m VERY proud of your’s! What dedication and poise you are showing in some very rough territory. I hate that a young lady as yourself has to see 1)the dolphin slaughter, and 2) the horrific way that you are being lied to, yelled at, and treated oh so poorly by the local Japanese government. I cannot believe that all of Japan is that way, but he (the Mayor) and his police force are making his countrymen look like lying, raving, and murdering lunatics. I know that the Japanese Yen is WAY down and you would think they would want to be encouraging people to buy Japanese…au contraire…
    I’ll keep sending all good thoughts and prayers your direction,

  11. thanks so much for the run down of your day – makes you wonder why the media was acting so crazy when you’ve been out there available to them for months now.

    Love the pictures of the kitties – they look really cute. I just read on your FB page that the boats are out, keeping swim far, swim deep, swim fast in my mind.

    1. also couldn’t help but get a laugh at the Dolphin “healing calendar” for 2011 – let’s see, dive with them, make them do tricks and have their soothing vibrations heal you, and then eat em up! Why don’t they see the contradiction?

  12. Thank you Elora and thank you to all of you from Japan what fight for such a sad and on the same time amazing cause. I’m posting every day on my facebook wall the news from Taiji hoping that more and more people will see what is happening there and how those barbarian people still kill such beautiful creatures as dolphins. I wish to all of you the best luck there. I’m sure they will have to gave up one day with this slaughter, is just a matter of time 😦 Best from Sweden

  13. Now I hear the have been successful in their capture…lets hope they can be decent enough to let the mothers and the babies go! Baby Iruka Free….Momma Iruka Free!

  14. This is such terrible news. Elora said it’s a “very, very large pod”. I hope the media is still near, so they can catch these disgraceful monsters in action. Keep the pressure going everyone! Call the embassies!

  15. Amazing work, Elora. Keep at it. I know it can be frustrating and difficult. Those who love you send lots of support and positive thoughts.

  16. Many thanks for detailing about the meeting. Wow, what a day! I will try to post it on my FB page and tursiops.org so that others can read about what had transpired.

    I read your quick FB report tonight that a very, very large pod has been trapped in the Cove. I posted my two comments there. Hope you got them OK. I just wish there’d be a way for all dolphins to jump out of those nets into freedom!


  17. Thank you Elora. You are growing stronger every day. Like a butterfly struggling to emerge from a cocoon, that struggle is what makes his wings grow strong. I believe you are the next “Ric O’Berry”, a man with dedication, determination and a fight for the dolphins that is going to be his dying breath. God bless him and God bless you and your father and for all those who are working in big and small ways to speak for those who have no voice. This will one day end. I truly believe that your blog alone has brought more attention to the cause and has unseated more people off their couch to do something about it than anything else (except for maybe the movie “The Cove”). You are an inspiration!! And you are by far a better role model than Lady Gaga to be sure!! (That part of the story made me laugh 🙂

    btw: According to your story, Ric was right about the circus event. It sounds as though the mayor was setting him up with certain people in play to put him in his place about bringing attention to the town of Taiji through his movie. He knew the players and sensed the set up. He was right to bow out. Good for him. Many people complained about him not attending and said he let the dolphins down. Ric would never let even one dolphin down. My take is, unless you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes and know what he knows, don’t judge.

    Heading to the anti-whaling protest tomorrow, hope to see many people there.
    God bless you all!!

  18. Another excellent report Elora. Thank you for allowing me to feel as if I were there with your descriptions. Your dedication and detail is incredible. You have my respect and my help, in whatever small way I can contribute.

    So sad to hear they didn’t even wait a week to capture another pod. Let us pray they let them go. What are they thinking they are going to kill them on the day the world plans on protesting their Whaling? Perhaps that gives the media another chance to get this back out in the press.

  19. Thank you Elora for persevering throughout this horrible tragedy!

    Right now there is a pod of dolphins in the Cove most of whom will be slaughtered – the pregnant females, the moms and their babies — and I will note it is an unsustainable practice from the viewpoint of any hunter of land animals. The only reason I can think of that they will slaughter all in the the cove, is they truly believe dolphins are eating all the fish and considered a nuisance! Killing the entire pod – supports this hypothesis. In the video of this meeting (not yours, the one the media put out), shows the mayor saying something about they use sustainable methods. Does he know what sustainable methods are? Clearly killing moms and babies is not a sustainable practice. It is quite the oxymoron for the town to have a whale museum and also have unsustainable fishing practices such as killing the moms and babies.
    Keep up the good work Cove Guardians!

  20. The world is watching…..The world is unhappy….SHAME ON JAPAN! People are calling and people are writting most countries do not eat Dolphin and this makes all other countries very angry with Japan!

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