J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation


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Hi Blog.  News re “The Cove” documentary:  The Japanese judiciary last week ruled that protestors are out of line by protesting at movie theaters and trying to stop the showing of the film.  So the bully boys are practicing their sound-trucking tactics at people’s homes, pressuring their families and neighbors to get them to stop screenings.

We’ve had one critic on this blog call this “good old fashioned activism“, but we for one during the Otaru Onsens Case (or any case we’ve taken up) have never gone to “Japanese Only” business-owners’ homes with megaphones, harassed their mothers, or made a scene in front of their neighbors.  Our tactics were raising the debate in the media, negotiating with decisionmakers and people involved, and taking the issue before intermediaries.  All above board.  That proved very time-consuming and often ineffectual outside of a courtroom (and even then).  Is this intimidation and bullying the best “activism” in Japan?  Perhaps effective, it’s just not our style.  And if we had used these tactics, I’m sure they would have engendered great criticism and damaged our cause.  But some shame-practitioners are shameless themselves.  As are some critics, it seems.  Read on.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Court bans protests over documentary ‘The Cove’
(Mainichi Japan) June 25, 2010

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) — The Yokohama District Court has banned a Tokyo civic group from staging protests around a movie theater in Yokohama that plans to screen the Oscar-winning U.S. documentary “The Cove” about a controversial dolphin hunt in Japan, its Japanese distributor said Friday.

The court decision on the injunction Thursday prohibits making loud speeches within a 100-meter radius of the movie theater and entering the movie theater without permission, the distributor Unplugged Inc. said.

As the movie theater is planning to screen the film from July 3, scores of people from the Tokyo group staged street protests around the theater on June 12. The theater applied to the court for an injunction to ban such protests.

The theater said it will show the movie as scheduled. The film, which was mostly shot in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, partly with hidden cameras, won the 2010 Academy Award for best documentary.

“The Cove” has drawn criticisms from some Japanese groups who claim that it is anti-Japanese. They have been intimidating theaters planning to show the film, leading three of the theaters in Tokyo and Osaka as well as universities in Tokyo to cancel the screenings.

The film will be screened at six movie theaters in Tokyo and five other Japanese cities from July 3, despite protests that caused earlier screenings to be canceled, the distributor said earlier.

The five other cities where the film will be screened are Osaka, Sendai, Yokohama, Kyoto and Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture. They will be followed by cinemas in 16 other locations across Japan, including Hiroshima, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Okinawa.
(Mainichi Japan) June 25, 2010


「コーヴ」抗議の街宣禁止 横浜地裁が仮処分決定
2010/06/25 14:02 【共同通信】






From: apps+mwmxywxr@facebookappmail.com
Subject: Successes and Setbacks
Date: July 1, 2010 12:18:05 PM JST

Bulletin from the cause: “The Cove” – Save Japan Dolphins
Posted By: Fonda Berosini
To: Members in “The Cove” – Save Japan Dolphins
Successes and Setbacks

Last week we had some important successes in Japan – several theater owners came forward and committed to show the film and we also won a key injunction in a Yokohama court against the group protesting the film. Unfortunately, the “protestors” are ramping up, employing their worst tactics to date.

This week they moved to the Yokohoma theater owner’s home, and when that didn’t work they moved on to his mother’s home:


As you can see, the woman is elderly. She has nothing to do with the distribution of the film. This is intimidation of the lowest order.

We tried to engage or critics – inviting them to participate in open forums, but they refused. Rather than discuss the issues they engage in highly aggressive bullying tactics to shut down the film. I personally believe they are being paid to protest and don’t really have a point of view. I don’t even think they care about Taiji. There only goal is to keep people from knowing the truth, no matter what it takes.

To this end it’s clear they – and whoever is funding them – aren’t giving up and our Japanese distributor is small with a very limited budget. Earth Island has been helping with promotion and security, but much more will be needed if we want to expand beyond these six theaters. We have 17 theaters on hold right now.

Ric O’Barry
Save Japan Dolphins


44 comments on “J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation

  • James in Nara says:

    if I hear him say “命をかけて” one more time I might be sick. I hate the super loud election vans in Japan, and this is just so much worse. Are they breaking some sort of public nuisance laws?

  • So, are these people showing their ‘manliness’ by picking on little old ladies? Not only that, but they didn`t even have the decency of ringing the bell! They just walked through the gate and opened the door. Yeah, you`ll win a ton of people over to your cause by harassing old women and screaming at the top of your lungs. This is disgusting. I kept hoping that the cranky looking man in blue would come down and tell them to shut up. I just feel sick about this..that poor woman. These bullies…there are no words low enough for them.

  • Sorry, I just saw the end of that clip and was very impressed with the distributor not rising to the invectives of the ‘protester’. He just stared him down…the main protester shows just what he is, a cowardly man with no real position. Made me smile at the end.

  • James. Dude. one of things that ruins my sats and suns is hearing that crap in the morning hours. Theres too much of that junk here…I notice a lot more in Kyoto City. I live in Osaka and my gf is here. I split time in both places. To date ive never seen ONE black van in Osaka! Ive seen over 2 dozen in Kyoto City! Its bonkers…dulls the experience for visitors of this wonderful country. Not many things bug me here, I can handle the stares and general malaise but when my walls are raped with the sounds of loud speakers thats when i long for the time when i can get on a plane and go back to Canada!

  • I know this might just be a cultural thing, but I hate it how sometimes people will walk through your yard and open your door. I didn’t see a chime button at the gate so entering the yard might not be unusual but the guy just opened the door.

  • catoneinutica says:

    That li’l fella with the glasses is a feisty one – he’s got quite the gravelly-voiced rap. What would YOU guys have done if you’d been the theater owner the mother? If I’d been the mother, I would’ve pepper-sprayed him the moment he stuck his head in the genkan. That’d be legal, right? She’d certainly have every reason to fear that she was about to suffer an assault, theft, or an all-out home invasion.

    If I’d been the theater owner, I think I would’ve said in his microphone that loudmouthed fella had a gay crush on me and I’d rejected his advances, hence the bitterness. Or how about just keeping your own bullhorn around for just such occasions? It’d certainly put the keystones to the test: if they told you to stop because you were disturbing the peace, they’d kinda, sorta have to tell the other guy too.

    And finally: I wonder if the noisy rascal is getting certain, uh, emoluments from interested parties for his obnoxious services.

  • ザ・コーヴ「上映阻止運動に断固抗議」映画監督協会



  • I like how the neighbors in that video looked like “What the crap are they doing?”. The way he spoke his keigo in that calm but threatening manner in the beginning was creepy…I got shivers down my spine hearing it. Let’s see what they do next. Hopefully they will wind up in jail soon enough.

    — In detention for questioning, maybe. But not jail.

  • There are allot of these guys (punks) running around, getting all hysterical about issues. Nothing but a punk. When the tall dude starred him down, he had a little smirk on his face but that only shows he just a little bitch. I like how that tall dude just starred right into that punks weakness.

  • What scumbags. As Mr. Burns said on The Simpsons, “Yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail.”

  • @Behan: “I know this might just be a cultural thing, but I hate it how sometimes people will walk through your yard and open your door. I didn’t see a chime button at the gate so entering the yard might not be unusual but the guy just opened the door.”

    Damn straight. They were on her private property, were they not? Just kick their asses out and if they won’t leave, call the cops. The old lady was too patient, nice, or intimidated to send them packing. What a bunch of scumbag losers those guys are.

  • catoneinutica says:

    @Justin and Behan: This is an old J-chestnut, but I think the genkan is legally some kind of public space. I’ve certainly had the postman walk right into the genkan of our place, though not recently. Nevertheless, as I mentioned in my earlier post, the woman would’ve been well within her rights to pepper-spray the guy, would she not?

  • there plan is going to backfire. because the more noise these lowlife idiots make, means the more people will be interested to see the movie and find out what all the big fuss is about. or just watch it for free at http://www.funshion.com

  • Mark in Kanto says:

    The protests of these goons even made it onto BBC in a story that is hardly balanced.


    Too bad somebody doesn’t also hire yakuza types like themselves to speak their language (i.e., force) and stop them or at least make life miserable from them. Makes me wonder who pays off such low life scum? Taiji politicians? Japanese fishermen’s association for cooperation and national harmony? Jiminto nationalists? Some radical right-wing fringe? The government ministry in charge of whaling?

    What is most sad is the absolutely ignorance that nine times out of ten when Japan is in the news (outside of Japan–inside the only thing you hear is sports and agricultural goodness) it has to do with the killing of whales. Nobody has a clue that this is the main image projects to the world…. slaughter in the name of “culture.”

  • This is disgusting beyond words. I cannot believe nobody called the cops on these ‘people’ (especially with so many on-lookers!) They could’ve easily been arrested for trespassing on private property, harassment, intimidation or just disturbing the peace if all else failed.

    I wonder if the protesters realize that by doing what they did, they only served to harm Japan’s public image abroad – the very Japan that they seem so eager to defend from foreign criticism.

  • It’s quite impossible to believe that an issue so well highlighted by the media is unknown to the cops manning that particular beat. Inaction by the cops seems to point to the fact that the protestors may have their tacit support.

    The fact that people in black van’s can openly deliver hate speeches, messages inciting anger and intolerance in plain view of the authorities is an alarming trend which as rightly pointed out earlier serves only to demean Japans image abroad.

  • Valentina says:

    I didn’t understand a word, but I could see how piteous, pathetic, dumb and ridiculous those people are just by watching how they behaved…their protest methods are really low. I hope they’re paid to do it, or get some kind of benefit…if not, and they actually think that is the best way to make people change their minds, they have some serious problems.
    Also, I was impressed with the theater’s owner keeping his temper. It’s admirable how he managed to keep calm in such a situation.

    But what strikes me most is that those protesters don’t seem to get that their behaviour has only negative consequences: it damages both Japan’s image abroad and their cause.

  • Words do not fucking well describe how sick to the stomach I felt at watching this. How DARE they.

    Forget calling the cops, in any decent community these people would have been chased away with baseball bats and half-bricks. That no one intervened sickens me almost as much as the bully boys themselves.

    I’m starting to really disagree with the idea that we should just ignore the Uyoku. These people bring thuggery, violence, and intimidation to anyone who disagrees with their ideology, and they have shown that they think innocent people are fair game. In my native UK, such activity by fascists will always be met by a far larger, hastily assembled crowd of anti-fascist protestors, who are just a police line away from giving them what they deserve.

    I really do long for a time when every noise truck in Japan is given the same welcome that they got from the Brazilians in Aichi Prefecture: http://www.debito.org/?p=834

  • Shoe on the other foot, isn’t it?
    This is a civil matter, of one opinion against another. The police will not get involved, just like they cannot stop the movie from being shown. If the government does it, then it is censorship. If it’s one group against another, that’s just activism and free speech against free speech. Let the opinions be exchanged, and let both sides be heard loud and clear.

  • David (=HO?), it certainly doesn’t look like peaceful discussion and exchange of opinions.
    You would be in the same situation if for your comment here you get name-calling, threats, abuse towards your family…
    Civilized discussion where both sides sit and calmly, quietly present their arguments is an exchange of opinions. If people almost directly threaten your life and the life of your family (stressing on 命をかけて), yell as loud as they can so your arguments cannot be heard by third side, then it is not a discussion.
    Using yakuza-like tactics (remember how yakuza used to park vans with loudspeakers in front of someone’s house and yell-“Return your loan”) has an effect not only on the abused side, but on the neighbourhood too-generally, Japanese people are very scared of dealing with yakuza,so this is kind of “Dare to call the police and you’ll see!” implication(at least I see it like that).

  • Yeah but bullying peoples private residences and place of employment is some serious hate. Your missing the point, with the shoe on the other foot message. He has a right to spew his view, but in a civil manner. The Uyoku people are much more than a civil rights for Japanese group. They are involved in many dark things, and also advocate turning back Japan to 60 years ago with us all bowing down to the emperor.

  • Am I the only one who rolled my eyes back when hearing old men trying to be scary in kanto-ben?

    I also wonder what goes on in their heads while spouting such hate…

  • David, a movie theater owner has the right to show a movie in his theater. Gangs of thugs do not have the right to harass private individuals in their own homes. If you truly do not understand why these two scenarios have nothing at all in common, then I am sorry, but you are an idiot.

  • @Alex,

    Yes, I did notice that as well. My outrage at their behaviour stands, but they did also sound alternately like middle schoolers and anime characters (especially with all the “ne?”s)

    Maybe I’m just too used to rough Kansai accents.

  • James in Nara says:

    @Matty, I guess you’ve been lucky in Osaka. I see the black vans routinely in front of Takashimaya in Nanba.

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    Regarding post #13, maybe we can have them all killed and claim that it was “scientific research” or “preserving ancient traditions and culture”!!

  • These guys have the right to be dicks in public, but it would be nice if the rest of Japan showed up to call them on their dickishness. In Japan, though, the “stay out of trouble” mentality means that the uyoku bullies never meet any opposition. Which is too bad. Like bullies anywhere, I’m sure they’d wilt like old lettuce the minute a crowd showed up to oppose them.

  • Mark Hunter says:

    Showed my students the first half of The Cove last week and then I asked for questions. Only one….”Is this true?”
    I wonder about the motivations of thos who scream from black trucks or who torment old ladies. Recently, I’ve started to think that they are actually psychologically damaged / scarred in some way and that their actions scratch some itch that they personally need scratching, very likely nothing to do with the issues they proclaim. Here in Osaka, I’ve observed the marching black truck types quite closely and all I can say is, and this is a mass overgeneralization, they look like a pack of real losers, almost otaku-like, although that’s an insult to otaku. I really feel these people are mentally ill in some way. Not unlike those anti-abortionists in the U.S. who protest at dead soldiers’ funerals. Has anyone ever tried to put these types on the couch and find out why they spew? Not why they spew what they spew, but why do they spew at all? While the recent excesses are repulsive, I actually like the way the Japanese government handles them. By allowing them to do what they do in marches and screaming from trucks, in my opinion, the government is allowing a potentially much more virulent form of nationalism from taking root. And I do believe that Japan, like Korea, is very capable of a much more virulent form of nationalism than anything the truck thugs produce. With an easily manipulated population, like Japan, this is something that should always be kept in mind. I don’t like it, but the alternative could be much, much worse, as history has shown. Happily, some of the old politicians currently stumping for the election, also look seriously deranged and in some cases senile. Rather sad really. Please note, that I do not condone in any way the abuse of the old lady.

  • I don’t understand the logic. What are the protestors angry about? If it’s just about foreigners not understanding Japan’s “unique” culture in this respect, then they should show the film to Japanese people who would (if it’s truly a part of their culture) simply shrug and move on.

    If they are worried that Japanese people will condemn their actions, then they must know at some level that their actions are not acceptable to the average Japanese person. In which case, they can’t claim a defense of it being “Japanese culture”.

    But to say “this is a unique part of Japanese culture, which foreigners don’t understand, and which we must keep secret from other Japanese people in case they don’t understand it either” strikes of having their cake and eating it too.

  • Yes, as a psychology major, I too am interested in these groups and why they do what they do and think what they think. I’d sure like to have an hour every week with one of these guys and find out what’s going on in their head and see if there is a underlying problem that is the root of their behavior, or if it is some other reason.

  • @Mark Hunter ” Recently, I’ve started to think that they are actually psychologically damaged / scarred in some way and that their actions scratch some itch that they personally need scratching, very likely nothing to do with the issues they proclaim.”

    Have you read Yukio Mishima’s “Kyoko no ie”? There is a character who is a boxer who breaks his hand, and who turns to right wing activism instead even though it is stressed that he doesnt even understand all the nationalistic/fascist rhetoric.
    He is just looking for a movement to join, because he has lost his ability to act physically.

    Mishima himself used right wing rhetoric to indulge his own samurai, masochistic fantasies, he admitted he just needed a movement and it was nothing personal against communists and westerners; he had many western friends. As most of us know, he took it to extremes by commiting Seppuku at the self defence force headquarters. Some say he was ill;he certainly was scarred by the war or rather his exclusion from it.

    Interesting that Ishihara Shintaro makes a big thing about his “friendship” with Mishima, though the former dislikes the fantasical “politics” of the latter.

    — This is getting a bit too speculative.

  • Not speculative, my sources include Mishima’s biographer and a quote from Ishihara himself, I m saying that these right wingers arent thinking logically, almost a tradition given some kind of unfortunate legitimacy by nobel prize nominated novelists and its almost a hobby or a club to join for some of them.

  • Mark Hunter says:

    Jon…good book suggestion. By understanding a little more about why people spew poison, it may actually lead to some solutions if we can counteract their motivations.

    Finished ‘The Cove’ today with my students. Since I hadn’t previously watched, I was a bit underwhelmed with the second half. After watching, a student asked me what’s the difference between killing a dolphin and killing a pig. The only answer I could give was that they are exactly the same. The animal dies in both scenarios. The government collusion in buying off whaling nations was a bit over their heads, but I’m glad they could see it. It did make them think a bit.

    — Good. But farming pigs and catching/culling wild animals are two different things.

  • Agreed they are different. Wild animals are a more eco friendly resource than animals kept in artificial circumstances.

    Personally, I dont really care if the folks in Wakayama want to eat or sell or play with dolphins and whales. If those creatures aren’t endangered, I dont see the difference between that and open ocean fishing. Let’s face it, food production (especially any kind of meat) is ugly and messy.

    What I DO care about is free speech. Nothing wrong with a good protest, as long as threats and violence are not involved. Sit, talk, obey the law. The right to protest the movie does NOT include the right to intimidate those who want to see/show it. I’m with Justin in that I wish the Japanese in general would show a little more in the way of balls when confronted with bullies.

  • Mark Hunter says:

    Debito, yes the methods are different, but in both cases the animal ends up dead. I eat pork and fish (not big on whale) and I feel I’d be deluding myself if I felt that a dead pig is somehow different than a dead dolphin. Culling for no reason (like the “pest control” scene in ‘The Cove’) is just plain wrong, as is capturing animals for non-research zoos, in my opinion.

    — Anyhow, back to the movie.

  • The bully boys also appear outside courtooms, ramp up invective to include racism and demand capital punishment:

    The Irish Times – Thursday, July 8, 2010
    Controversial hero of environmental movement
    A protester against anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd holds a placard of activist Peter Bethune, saying PUNISH HIM HEAVILY, THE RACIST AND ECO-TERRORIST.
    Photograph: Reuters
    DAVID McNEILL in Tokyo

    Peter Bethune has been given a suspended jail sentence for trying to stop a whale cull in Japan where he is despised and harangued

    ARRESTED AT sea, taken to Tokyo in handcuffs and yesterday given a two-year suspended jail sentence for trying to stop Japan’s annual whale cull, Peter Bathing has become a controversial hero of the environmental movement. But in Japan, where he was on trial for boarding a whaling ship and assaulting a crew member, he is despised and harangued by nationalists, who call him an eco-terrorist.

    Bethune, who is being deported back to his native New Zealand, was accused of throwing a mild acid and injuring a member of the crew of the Shonan Maru II that collided with his powerboat a month earlier during clashes in the Antarctic Ocean. The New Zealander’s trial was the first in Japan against a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservationist Society, a US direct action group, and has attracted huge media attention.

    Japanese ultra-nationalists picketed his daily court appearances and staged noisy protests outside the New Zealand and Australian embassies in Tokyo. Some called for Bethune to be “hanged”. Australia announced last month that it is upping the ante in the anti-whaling battle by following through on a long-standing threat to take Japan to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

    The legal and high seas skirmishes fill the vacuum left by the failure to find a solution to the two-decade war over Japan’s whaling programme.

    A compromise proposal to solve the dispute disintegrated at the annual conference of the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco last month. Observers fear the failure will open the door to more direct action by conservationists and their nationalist foes, who claim whaling is part of Japanese culture.

    Last week, a Japanese court issued a rare ban against demonstrators who have hounded screenings of an Oscar-winning documentary exposing the country’s infamous annual dolphin cull. Yokohama regional court ordered members of a right-wing protest group to stay away from a theatre showing The Cove , which depicts the slaughter of thousands of dolphins every year in the picturesque fishing town of Taiji.

    Bullhorn-wielding ultra-nationalists have repeatedly descended on theatres that screen the movie, denouncing it as anti-Japanese.

    The nationalists say the documentary is a front for Sea Shepherd, which they denounce as a “terrorist” group.

    A general Japanese release of The Cove has been stalled for more than a year amid fears of protests and even violent retribution against cinemas. But film distributor Unplugged has decided to take on the protesters on condition that the movie’s makers block the faces of the local people it depicts. More than 20 theatres have agreed to screen it after a group of directors and publishers stood up to defend it, turning the controversy into a free speech debate.

    Japan, meanwhile, has placed Sea Shepherd head Paul Watson on an international wanted list, part of a stepped-up campaign against eco-warriors who target the whaling industry. Japan’s coast guard accuses Watson of ordering the attack on its Antarctic whaling fleet earlier this year. Sea Shepherd’s boat, Ady Gil , captained by Bethune, was destroyed in subsequent clashes when it collided with a whaling ship.

    Bethune was found guilty of obstructing the hunt and injuring a whaling crew member in Tokyo district court yesterday.

    Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki also face lengthy custodial sentences this summer on charges of trespass and theft after they tried to expose the misappropriation of whale meat aboard Japan’s main whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru . The two intercepted one of dozens of boxes of whale meat allegedly sent illegally by the whaling crew to addresses across Japan.

    Sato and Suzuki took these allegations to journalists at a press conference before handing the meat over to the police and demanding an investigation. The authorities responded by ignoring the claims and launching a ferocious campaign against Greenpeace.

    Bethune called his trial “judicial rape” from the Tokyo prison where he was being held. “There has been this procession of rehearsed statements from their side,” said Bethune, flanked by a prison guard during an interview in the bunker-like Tokyo detention centre. He admitted charges including trespassing and disruption of commerce but denied assaulting a crew member of the Shonan Maru II with a bottle of butyric acid. Last month the whaler testified that he needed a week of medical treatment after the acid splashed him on the face, an accusation Bethune denies.

    Australia and New Zealand accuse Japan of commercial whaling in what both countries consider a whale sanctuary. Tokyo calls the annual cull “scientific whaling” and says neither country has any legal claim over the southern oceans, a defence Bethune angrily rejected.

    “They’re hunting whales in my backyard,” he said.

    “They’ve got no right to be there and like a lot of people I find it deeply offensive.”

    Sea Shepherd founder Watson said recently that Bethune “is being used as a political football by right-wing nationalists in Japan”.

    Bethune was captaining the powerboat Ady Gil in January when it was sliced in half by the Shonan Maru II in what Sea Shepherd calls a deliberate attack. Bethune climbed aboard the Japanese vessel the following month, intending, he says, to arrest its captain for attempted murder and bill him for the sinking of his ship, but was himself arrested and taken back to Tokyo for trial.

    “My aim was to make life awkward for them,” said Bethune. “We’ve succeeded. This has caused enormous damage and extreme embarrassment to Japan.”

  • Mark Hunter says:

    Hate to do it, but I just gotta. Bethune is deluding himself if he thinks Japan is embarrassed. That’s his interpretation only. More likely, the ‘but you eat cows’ mentality is ruling the day. Embarrassment? Nah.

  • I couldn’t be bothered to read the above comments, quite simply the people in the video are cowardly animals that in any western country would be now having their innards scraped from the streets. Abusing an old woman in that way, what a show of bushidou. Seriously, what depths are these people willing to stoop to.

    What really needs to be done is that someone actually subtitle the videos and have them posted to a wider audience, this would surely make the news in western countries.


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