LOS ANGELES, CA — Dozens of celebrities and activists have joined hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons in calling upon Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to pressure President Barack Obama to refuse signing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) until Japan abandons its practice of drive hunt slaughter and capture of dolphins and porpoises. The letter does not assert a position in regards to the TPP, rather, it attempts to inject the growing concern over Japan’s wanton slaughter of cetacean species into the next round of trade talks scheduled to be held from February 17 – 19, 2014. News of the letter, sent to Ambassador Kennedy’s office yesterday afternoon, was broken by the Associated Press at 12:00pm in Japan, and triggered an avalanche of international news coverage overnight.
Sean Penn, Jennifer Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Oliver Stone are among a portion of the laundry list of undersigned celebrities, each expressing outrage over the slaughter. The letter specifically focuses on the seasonal drive hunt held annually in Japan’s Taiji Cove.
“Since the start of the Taiji drive hunt season on September 1, 2013, over 600 dolphins have been slaughtered,” states the letter “…and over 149 were taken captive, slated to live lonely, degrading, psychosis-inducing lives analogous to enslavement at amusement parks, as chronicled in the film ‘Blackfish’. The drive hunt and slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales that occurs throughout Japan each year is Japan’s shame. These barbaric drives, that began in 1969, must be stopped immediately.”
The TPP and the process in which any agreement will be reached has remained largely shrouded from public discourse. The letter expresses some of the groups frustration regarding the TPP’s lack of transparency and avoidance of democratic process…
“Corporations have spent the past two years marking-up the language of the TPP to serve their interests, should human compassion not be afforded the same privilege as business interests?”
The full text of the letter can be read below. A Japanese translation of the letter is available to share HERE. A copy of the original can be viewed HERE
February 5, 2014*
Dear Ambassador Kennedy,
We, the undersigned, ask you to personally deliver this petition to President Barack Obama urging him to NOT sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) until Japan bans the slaughter and capture of Dolphins in Taiji.
Following the graphic news reports on January 17th that five pods of Bottlenose dolphins were driven into Taiji’s infamous killing cove, leaving 40 slaughtered and 51 captured, people watching from around the world were left heartbroken. In the wake of this massacre, thousands expressed their gratitude to you for expressing your opposition to these killings and captures on social media. We join them in gratitude for your concern for the dolphins of Japan.
Images of the panicked Bottlenose (more than 250 in total-including a very rare white calf who may be blind and/or deaf) broke the hearts of millions, as they watched the live-streamed coverage, or viewed photographs taken by those present during the drive hunt. The widely-shared video documenting terrified families of dolphins clinging together as Taiji fisherman ran them over with their boats, cordoned them off with nets, and drove them towards the killing cove, has sparked an international outcry to end this brutality.
Since the start of this Taiji drive hunt season on September 1, 2013, over 600 dolphins have been slaughtered, and over 149 were taken captive, slated to live lonely, degrading, psychosis-inducing lives analogous to enslavement at amusement parks, as chronicled in the film “Blackfish”. The drive hunt and slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales that occurs throughout Japan each year is Japan’s shame. These barbaric drives, that began in 1969, must be stopped immediately.
We, the undersigned, are not using this petition to assert a position in regards to the TPP, rather we are underscoring that your influential voice in defense of the dolphins of Japan is instrumental in expressing to the White House the importance of making their slaughter and captive trade a key factor in the negotiations ahead. Corporations have spent the past two years marking-up the language of the TPP to serve their interests, should human compassion not be afforded the same privilege as business interests? Although we understand that the negotiations have been quite lengthy, at this point, we feel the only way to end these heinous crimes against dolphins migrating through Japan’s waters is to inject our position into the current conversation regarding the trade agreement.
The world is looking to you, Ambassador Kennedy, and to our government to send a clear message to Japan that this atrocity must be banned NOW.
For the dolphins, For all of humanity,
Russell Simmons & Simone Reyes
Ingrid Newkirk / PETA
Captain Paul Watson
Chris DeRose / Last Chance for Animals
Melissa Carbone / TTO Productions
Trevor Neilson / Global Philanthropy Group
Nathan Runkle / Mercy for Animals
Gene Baur / Farm Sanctuary
Channing and Jenna Tatum
Ric O’Barry / The Cove / The Dolphin Project
Reverend Jesse Jackson
To arrange an interview with Simone Reyes or Russell Simmons regarding this initiative please contact Andy Stepanian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 631.291.3010. information about how to take action to stop the Taji dolphin drive-hunt is available via The Cove Guardians HERE as well as from The Dolphin Project HERE