One of the greatest things about living in a city like London is the ability to connect with just about anyone, anything, at any time.
Last week I left work on a Friday afternoon and found myself in the midst of a protest outside the Japanese embassy. The Taiji Protests focus on two issues: the slaughtering of dolphins for meat, and the capturing of live dolphins for entertainment. Obviously, much of the protesting was focused on Japan's treatment of dolphins. I cruised around the protest for a couple of hours, taking photos and chatting with people.
Later in the night, I told a few people that I checked out these protests. Comments were generally along the lines of, "but I'm sure all of those protestors eat chicken!" or "why worry about what Japan is doing, and maybe focus on the way we treat animals at home." Fair points.
While the UK was the first country in the world to implement laws to protect animals, it doesn't always stack up well when it comes to the protection of animals today. Same goes goes for most western countries, including Australia and the USA. We all know that hyper-capitalist economies favour mass production, and when it comes to farm animals, the results of profit maximisation will often lead to overcrowding, exploitation, lameness, disease and mutilation. On top of that, western countries undertake some pretty horrendous things outside the farming industry. I mean, Australia can hardly condemn Japan when it's embarking on a horrendous shark cull.
So, do we in England really have a leg to stand on when it comes to animal rights in Japan? Of course we do.
We have a right to free speech. And in today's society someone's business, no matter where in this world they live, is someone's else's business. The fact that we have these conversations is only a good thing.
Yes, it can be argued that these protestors are hypocritical. And yes, Japan has been utilising these farming techniques for a certain amount of time and it's therefore a fundamental part of the country's culture. But let's have the conversation. Let's hear how the Japanese embassy responds. Let's get angry, yell and scream about what we think or believe in. We're human after all, and that's how human society evolves. National borders define laws but they don't define morality.
Photos by Tom Oliver Payne.