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article imageOp-Ed: Sea Shepherd: Cove Guardians under attack in Taiji, Japan

By Elizabeth Batt     Mar 12, 2012 in Environment
Taiji - In a bizarre chain of events, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is reporting five cove guardians in Taiji, Japan, were attacked by Japanese nationalists.
The five Cove Guardians (CG) representing SSCS in Taiji, were initially approached at the cove by nationalists who "reacted violently," to their presence said Sea Shepherd. But what followed was even stranger.
Scott West, a Sea Shepherd veteran, said even more weird, was the way Japanese police handled the issue. First, they blamed the incident on the CGs for swimming in the cove earlier in the week, then police advised SSCS members for their own safety, to keep their distance from the cove.
Of course the suggestion was the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a bull. Well within their legal rights West said, Guardians returned to the cove. "The police became very animated," West suggested, almost as if they feared the nationalists' response.
Authorities then warned the Guardians the nationalists were at the CG's hotel, hoping to track them down. Failing to do so, the nationalists returned to the cove.
That's when "things became truly bizarre," said West.
The police forced the Guardians into their cars and told them to head out of Taiji. The CG cars were then urged along by the police cars who in turn, were chased by the nationalists in their cars. West said:
"At times there were as many as 10 vehicles in a high-speed convoy traveling south out of Taiji. Sirens were blaring and lights were flashing. It was clear that the nationalists were controlling the situation."
With the nationalists continuing to chase the police cars, the police shunted Cove Guardians in their cars, directly into the large police compound at Kushimoto and locked the gates. West reports, as of "3:45 pm in Japan on March 12, 2012," there has been no communication from any of the Guardians.
A short while ago however, CG Melissa Sehgal who is in Taiji, said all "five Cove Guardians are safe and remain strong." Sehgal thanked Wakayama and Shingu CIty Police for protecting them.
It appears odd Japanese police never once gave chase or attempted to apprehend the nationalists. Considering the threats and the resulting police chase, this is bizarre given that Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen spent over 60 days in a Japanese jail, for a pushing incident he was found not guilty of.
But perhaps this irked the nationalists? Maybe they were irritated over the Japanese whaling fleet's early departure from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary? Or could the constant pressure of being under scrutiny at the cove, have played a role?
Certainly Sea Shepherd's recent court victory in Seattle must also sting? Last December, Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) sued SSCS to prevent what it said were "acts of violence" by activists in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. A US federal judge disagreed with ICR and declined to immediately restrain the activities of the anti-whaling group.
Of course if you asked Sea Shepherd about these recent events, the organization would acknowledge it's all in a day's work. No stranger to adversity or confrontation, actions such as these are how SSCS marks its success and effectiveness. Unfortunately, this attack by Japanese nationals may have achieved only one thing; the one entity they dislike the most, now has more ammunition to play with.
Sea Shepherd recently announced issued an update to the events in Taiji, along with further video.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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