Taiji dolphins: Gwyneth Paltrow, Sean Penn and Jennifer Hudson send letter condemning hunt to President Obama

Hollywood stars and activists are urging the President to negotiate the end of the practice as part of a trade agreement with Japan.

American activists and celebrities including Sean Penn and Gwyneth Paltrow, are urging US President Barack Obama not to sign an international trade agreement with Japan until the country bans the slaughter of dolphins.

Among those who have joined Penn and Paltrow to sign the letter written by hip-hop producer Russell Simmons, are Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Hudson, Charlize Theron, and TV personalities Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner.

Mr Simmons claims that more than 600 dolphins have been slaughtered since the hunting season began in the fishing town of Taiji, on 1 September last year.

Anti-hunt activists have also reported that dozens of fishermen helped to herd about 250 dolphins into a cove one day in January.

Of those, about 40 were eventually killed for their meat. At least 50 others were kept alive for sale to aquariums and others, while the rest were released.

Warning: graphic content. Japanese fishermen round up and kill dolphins in the now infamous Taji cove

The 2009 Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove raised awareness and sparked protests against the annual hunt and ensuing slaughter in the town.

Japanese law currently allows a hunting season for dolphins, something that fishermen defend as a tradition.

Japanese fishermen transporting slaughtered dolphins in Taiji harbour. Japanese fishermen transporting slaughtered dolphins in Taiji harbour.
The letter, dated Wednesday 5 Febraury, asks for the US ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, to persuade President Obama not to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) until Japan halts the practice.

The TPP is being negotiated by 12 nations that account for about 40 per cent of global GDP.

Ms Kennedy recently  tweeted that she was deeply concerned by the tradition. Following the post, a US State Derparment spokeswoman said that the US was "concerned with both the sustainability and the humaneness of the Japanese dolphin hunts."

An member of the 'Taiji Dolphin Action Group' is curled up on a sheet depicting blood on the Japanese flag, during a protest against the killing of dolphins. An member of the 'Taiji Dolphin Action Group' is curled up on a sheet depicting blood on the Japanese flag, during a protest against the killing of dolphins.

Mr Simmons' stressed that the signatories do not oppose the TPP, but want to see the dolphin hunts become a key factor in negotiations.

The letter said that corporations have spent the past two years crafting language in the TPP "to serve their interests."

"Should human compassion not be afforded the same privilege as business interests?" the letter asked.

It added: "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."

Read more
Taiji Cove dolphins: This slaughter must stop
Taiji Cove dolphins: Japanese government defends 'lawful' slaughter as hunters prepare to kill 200 animals
Taiji Cove: 250 bottlenose dolphins await slaughter or captivity as selection begins  

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own