“The Cove,” an Oscar-winning documentary about dolphin hunting in Japan, would seem to be a natural fit for movie theaters here, but so far the distributor has yet to find a single one that will screen the film.
And if Shuhei Nishimura and his compatriots on Japan’s nationalist fringe have their way, none ever will.
In a country that shudders at disharmony and remains wary of the far right’s violent history, the activists’ noisy rallies, online slanders, intimidating phone calls and veiled threats of violence are frightening theaters into canceling showings of “The Cove,” which not only depicts dolphin hunting in an unflattering light but also warns of high levels of mercury in fish, a disturbing disclosure in this seafood-loving nation.
Commercial whaling has been outlawed worldwide since the mid-1980s, but the ban does not cover smaller marine mammals like dolphins. Japan kills about 13,000 dolphins a year, according to the Fisheries Agency, of which about 1,750 are captured in Taiji.