Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Broome: Taiji dolphin message is ‘cultural intolerance’

by Geoff Vivian

A Broome woman reacted angrily to yesterday’s shire council resolution against its Japanese sister city’s dolphin kill.

Photo: Bel Skinner

Photo: Bel Skinner

“The sister township that was initiated by the goodwill of divers who have given generously to this town throughout history has been dishonoured immensely,” said Anna Kaino, whose father is an immigrant from Taiji.

Many Japanese lived in Broome when it was an important pearling port, and the Japanese section of the cemetary has hundreds of graves, mostly of men who died at sea.

At a time when coloured immigration into Australia was severely restricted, generations of Asian men from pearling crews continued to marry into local black and white families.

The town has grown rapidly over the last three decades with the influx of people from other parts of Australia, notably cities in the south.

Ms Kaino said the council’s decision demonstrates what she calls a growing sense of cultural intolerance in Broome.

“It shows our inability to uphold ties in time of need, and demonstrates how to create fear and mistrust amongst culturally ignorant people,” she said.

“I don’t condone the way dolphins are killed and I think we may even owe it to Taiji to offer to help find a more tolerable method.”

Councillor Chris Maher said he read out a statement from Ms Kaino at a public meeting last week.

“I had a very long conversation with Anna and I read a letter on her behalf to the gathering … which was respectfully listened to and thought about,” he said.

The Thursday night rally; and several petitions, emails and letters; prompted the shire to hold a special council meeting yesterday so as to send a message to Taiji before the annual dolphin kill begins on 1 September.

Councillor Maher said the shire has not suspended relations with Taiji, and the council resolved at yesterday’s meeting to try and help Taiji find ways of creating more jobs around the dolphins without killing them.

Ms Kaino, who lived in Taiji for two years, said the resolution was insulting to Taiji people and their local descendants, who continue to make an important contribution to the town.

“This connection extends to generations in both towns,” she said.

“This connection has now been mauled by those guided by what they SEE not what they KNOW.”

She suggested the shire may have acted out of concern that its image is suffering, and this would affect tourism.

“In terms of a threat to tourism more people will be discouraged by the gas plant, not who we keep ties with,” she said.

Photo: This bronze statue in Broome’s shopping and entertainment district is a monument to deep sea pearl divers.

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