AMANDA KRETSCH WRITES – It’s been seven years since the release of “The Cove” but Japan evidently is still smarting. Former dolphin trainer and star of the brutal 2009 documentary, Ric O’Barry, arrived in Tokyo as a tourist last month and was immediately detained by officials.
This isn’t the first time O’Barry has been held, but it is the first time he’s been denied entry to the country. After O’Barry refused deportation, the Japanese government made plans to issue an arrest warrant and is holding him in solitary near Narita International Airport, according to his lawyer.
When “The Cove” was released in 2009, it showed viewers close-up the grim, annual dolphin hunt held in the waters off of the village of Taiji. The film drew global criticism of the Japanese practice and has proved a lingering embarrassment to the country.
Coverage of O’Barry’s detention suggests that national publications, though ostensibly objective, stand with the government on this one.
O’Barry’s lawyer confirmed that the dolphin defender had previously lied to Japanese officials about entering the country to attend an activist event. As expected, the government resented his dishonesty and the damaging light he continues to shine on the nation. A statement in the Japan Times says Taiji locals have participated in the annual event for years and do not plan on stopping.
Should he have lied earlier about why he was visiting? Probably not. But O’Barry’s sins pale in comparison to the dolphin slaughter. And by siding with the state, Japanese media are complicit.