Last night, the international hacktivist group, Anonymous, temporarily shut down the government website for Wakayama Prefecture, where Taiji Cove is located. This Japanese seaside village is where local fisherman round up dolphins on an annual basis to capture some for marine park shows and slaughter more for food. Over the weekend, about 500 dolphins were corralled into a netted area, including a rare albino calf.
The drive-hunt fishing method gained worldwide attention in the 2009 Academy Award winning documentary The Cove. Since then, more and more pressure has been put on the Japanese government to end the annual kill. During this most recent event, US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy as well as Yoko Ono were among those criticizing the practice.
Now Anonymous has jumped into the ring, launching Operation KillingBay (#OpKillingBay). In a tweet they posted at 7:05 PM last night, hacker Anonymous Priest announced “Taiji Prefecture is offline.” Minutes later, the site was back up with a warning that the Wakayama Prefecture government site could expect more attacks unless they ended the slaughter.
The Taiji mayor, Kazutaka Sangen, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga have both justified the practice, calling it a centuries’ old tradition. But in a statement to Candace Calloway Whiting of Seattle PI, Sakae Hemmi of the Elsa Nature Conservancy in Japan said the claim of tradition is false.
Anonymous says they will be back in February. They tweeted: “That was another Warning Japan! Expect us February 9th.”