Japan distributor to show 'The Cove' free online

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The Japanese distributor of "The Cove" said Thursday it will show the Oscar-winning documentary about the slaughter of dolphins free online to up to 2,000 people after some cinemas cancelled screenings.

Unplugged Inc. this month scrapped screenings that had been due to start June 26 at a Tokyo theatre after right-wing protesters - known for their ear-splitting street demonstrations using megaphones - targeted the cinema.

The distributor later confirmed that two more theatres, one in Tokyo and the other in Osaka, had also cancelled screenings, meaning that no theatre in the capital will now show the film about Japan's annual dolphin hunts.

The film has stirred much online debate in Japan, even though most people commenting on it have not seen the film, said a company official from Unplugged, citing the distributor's president Takeshi Kato.

"People discussing the film on the Internet are talking without having watched it, and it seems they don't understand its meaning," he said. "It's okay to support or oppose the film, but we hope that will be discussed after people watch the film."

In comments attached to a You Tube posting of the trailer for "The Cove", many people slammed the film for tarnishing the dolphin hunt in the town of Taiji, which defends the slaughter as part of its tradition.

One person criticised a woman shown in the film, saying: "Everyone's life depends on the sacrifice of other creatures' lives but she may be self absorbed, thinking 'what a golden heart I have, sympathising with dolphins'."

"Dolphins are destructive animals for fishermen who catch mackerels and sardines," another person said in a posting.

The film will be distributed through Nico Nico Douga, a Japanese online video portal site, which will admit the first 2,000 applicants and require them to register with usernames and passwords.

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