Update on “The Cove”–The Struggle to Screen in Japan

25 June 2010


The New York Times (June 18) reported that far right groups in Japan were blocking the planned screenings of The Cove by intimidation.

In a country that shudders at disharmony and remains wary of the far right’s violent history, the activists’ noisy rallies, online slanders, intimidating phone calls and veiled threats of violence are frightening theaters into canceling showings of “The Cove,” which not only depicts dolphin hunting in an unflattering light but also warns of high levels of mercury in fish, a disturbing disclosure in this seafood-loving nation.

On June 25, AP reported:

TOKYO — A court Friday ordered protesters to keep away from a theater that plans to show the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” about a dolphin hunt in a Japanese village….

The dispute over the film developed into a debate over free speech after initial screenings were canceled by theaters to avoid noisy protests. After prominent publishers and directors voiced their concern, at least 22 theaters have now agreed to show it.

Yokohama New Theater, a small cinema in a city next to Tokyo which plans to show the film from July 3, has been targeted repeatedly by protesters with bullhorns and signs. There were no protests there Friday after the main group responsible received the court order.

The order was issued by the Yokohama regional court at the request of the theater, according to Miyuki Takamatsu, a spokeswoman for Unplugged, the movie’s Japanese distributor.

Unplugged requested and received a similar order from a Tokyo court earlier this year after repeated protests at its headquarters and at the home of its president, she said.

Nationalists have said the film has connections to Sea Shepherd, an anti-whaling group that has been labeled a terrorist organization by Tokyo for its militant actions against Japanese whalers. The movie includes a sympathetic interview with Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson….


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