Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Japan weighs in on "the Cove" winning Oscar for Best Documentary

by Chris MaGee

This past Sunday's Oscar's ceremony may not have had the thrills of Yojiro Takita winning Best Foreign Language Film for "Departures" and Kunio Kato winning Best Animated Short for "La Maison en Petit Cubes" like the 81st annual Awards in 2009. Nor did it suffer the embarrassment of swapping a photo for the alive and well Rentaro Mikuni for the late Kon Ichikawa (although how did they miss Farrah Fawcett for the eulogy montage?) The onlt Japan connection that the 82nd annual Academy Awards had was Louie Psihoyos' hard hitting documentary "The Cove" winning Best Documentary. "The Cove" has Psihoyos following dolphin rights activist Ric O'Barry to the seaside town of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture to expose the horrors of the annual dolphin slaughter that takes place there. "The Cove" is definitely a harrowing film, and a pretty damning indictment of the Japanese policy of both dolphin and whale hunting, and because of that people in Japan aren't too happy that Psihoyos's documentary picked up a golden statuette.

According to a report at Japan Probe a Fuji TV news item on "The Cove's" Oscar win calls the film "biased" and "unfair" and that the information presented by Psihoyos about the potential long term risk of severe mercury poisoning from eating dolphin meat is inaccurate. While I personally found "The Cove's" dolphin slaughter footage hard to watch, but it was the comparison between the consumption of dolphin meat in school lunches and the disastrous mercury poisoning around the Chisso Corporation's chemical plant in Minamata during the 1950's and 60's that I found particularly sobering.

I have to go on record by saying that I agreed with the message in "The Cove", but what do you think? Is "The Cove" a factual portrait of the flagrant slaughter of dolphins in Taiji and the cover-up of a potential Minamata-like health crisis, or is it a biased view by foreign activists. Have your say in the comments.

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