The Cove's Oscar win irks Japanese town

Officials in the Japanese town of Taiji, featured in the dolphin kill documentary The Cove, are protesting the film's Oscar win.

Officials of a Japanese town featured in the dolphin kill documentary The Cove are protesting the film's Oscar win.

Taiji is a fishing village in southwestern Japan where a dolphin slaughter nets 2,000 of the mammals every year.

The filmmakers managed to fool local authorities and police and sneak into the protected cove where the dolphins are chased toward shore and then speared. Some of the dolphins are caught and end up in aquariums around the world, but many are sold for meat.

The film states much of that meat is tainted with high levels of mercury.

"There are different food traditions within Japan and around the world," said a statement released by the mayor's office on Monday. "It is important to respect and understand regional food cultures, which are based on traditions with long histories."

The mayor's statement also questions the scientific accuracy of the documentary.

Director Louie Psihoyos said his film wasn't meant as an attack on Japan but instead a "love letter" to the Japanese.

"Our hope is the Japanese people will see this film and decide themselves whether animals should be used for meat and for entertainment," Psihoyos said backstage after receiving the Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Hunt to continue, town says

Town residents and officials say they will not cease the annual hunt.

"This is a close-knit group of fisherman," points out local councilman Hisato Ryono, who appears in the film. "They won't stop this hunt because of such pressure."

Ryono and Tetsuya Endo, a professor at the Health Science University of Hokkaido, both claim they appeared in the film under false pretences.

The pair said they had asked the filmmakers to take out footage of their interviews.

"I feel they should have declined the award," said Endo, who is considering legal action.

The movie will be released in Japan in June. It premiered in the country last October at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

The film's Japanese distributor said the faces of Taiji residents are being blurred out for the Japanese version.

With files from The Associated Press