Blog

Censorship of The Cove in Japan

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


In recent months, members of a right-wing nationalist group in Japan have been protesting outside the Tokyo office of Unplugged, the Japanese distributor of The Cove, criticizing the film as a betrayal of Japanese pride. The group uses loudspeakers to shout slogans like "eco-terrorist", and have even protested outside the home of Unplugged CEO Takeshi Kato.

After a flood of angry phone calls, three movie theaters in Tokyo and Osaka have cancelled showing The Cove due to threats of protests outside of screenings. Citing fears about the safety of moviegoers and nearby businesses, these theaters have been intimidated by this small group of extremists in what amounts to censorship of the film.

Kato said in a statement, "Since The Cove won the Oscar, our office and my house has been relentlessly attacked by propaganda activities. Now these attacks have begun on theaters. [These theaters] made a tough decision. The Cove is not anti-Japanese film. We need to debate the content in constructive way. We lament that we are losing opportunities to see the film about Japan, in Japan. We will continue to discuss the situation carefully with other theaters and exert maximum effort to release The Cove."

A letter supporting the release of The Cove was signed by 55 public personalities in Japan, saying that the suppression of the film "underlines the weakness of the freedom of speech in Japan."Despite the nationalist group’s attempts at threatening and intimidating the Japanese distributor and exhibitors, the film is still scheduled to screen in 23 other theaters on June 26th. 

Ric O’Barry, former Flipper trainer, is currently in Japan for the premiere of the film and will be talking to media and other groups leading up to that date.


Watch Director Louie Psihoyos' reaction to this censorship.



Video of nationalist protestors outside the home of Takeshi Kato, CEO of Unplugged, the Japanese distributor of
The Cove.