Protests, police at Japan opening of "The Cove"

Sat Jul 3, 2010 2:29am EDT
 
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By Chris Meyers

TOKYO (Reuters) - Shouts, a scuffle and flag-waving protesters greeted the Japanese opening of "The Cove," a controversial Oscar-winning documentary about a grisly annual dolphin hunt.

The movie, which shows dolphins being herded into a cove and then slaughtered, has met with fierce opposition in Japan from groups who say it is "anti-Japanese" and an affront to traditional culture.

Dozens of police and more than 50 protesters, both for and against the screening, faced off in front of a cinema in Tokyo's trendy Shibuya district.

"Don't bully the fishermen!" read one banner. Another protester waved the Japanese Imperial flag.

"Australia kills a total of 3 million kangaroos per year, but yet no one does anything about it," said 62-year-old Nobuo Kikuchi as he held a sign saying "Stop Racial Discrimination against Japanese."

"What I would like to know is why the Japanese have become a target."

Fears that protests might inconvenience moviegoers prompted cancellations at two cinemas in Tokyo and one in Osaka that had originally planned to screen the film, according to Unplugged, the Japan distributor.

Directed by former National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos, the documentary follows eco-activists who struggle with Japanese police and fishermen to gain access to a secluded cove in Taiji, southern Japan, long known as a whaling center.   Continued...

 
<p>An activist protesting against the screening of the movie "The Cove" holds placards in front of a theatre in Tokyo July 3, 2010. Protesters gathered at the Japanese opening of "The Cove", a controversial Oscar-winning documentary about a grisly annual dolphin hunt. Dozens of polices and some 50 people, both for and against the screening, faced off in front of a theatre in Tokyo's Shibuya district on Saturday. REUTERS/Issei Kato</p>