Whilst visiting Japan recently, Sarah and I met many inspiring Japanese animal welfare advocates. Each of them has done amazing things and spoken out about dolphin hunting in Japan.
Two of the most remarkable people we met were Tetsuo Nakahara and Toru Fujita. Together, these two people have created one of the most wonderful projects we’ve ever come across.
The Fukushima Kids Dolphin Camp (‘FKDC’) was created last year by Tetsuo and Toru to help sick kids recovering from the Fukushima disaster, as well as foster a love and respect for wild dolphins and the environment.
As a result of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, many local families were exposed to harmful levels of radiation. Because they can’t move from their homes, they are forced to stay in the town and keep the windows closed. Children can’t play outside and obesity levels have soared. Sadly, over 100 children have also developed thyroid cancer as a result of the high-level radiation exposure.
FKDC was created to try and offset this devastation. It gives children much-needed respite and a chance to play outside, without fear of being exposed to radiation. Not only this, but the camp has the added benefits of raising awareness about dolphins and encouraging families not to visit aquariums.
Just off the coast of Tokyo, there is an island oasis called Mikura. Mikura Island is lucky enough to have a pod of around 130 resident bottlenose dolphins and the Mayor has even named the wild dolphins official citizens.
This island paradise serves as the backdrop to the camp, where for five days children affected by the disaster hike, watch and swim with wild dolphins, as well as participate in art classes and gentle yoga exercises.
In a country synonymous with whaling and dolphin hunting, this type of project is incredibly rare. Especially since the program is being run completely by volunteers and by Japanese people.
If you’ve ever wondered what you can do to help dolphins and whales in Japan, this is a very worthy project and certainly one that we at AFD vouch for. Sadly, Tetsuo and Toru had to turn away children who wanted to go on the camp this year, as they could only raise enough money to take a small number of children.
With your help, AFD hopes to work together with the FKDC so many more of these camps can be hosted so that Tetuo and Toru never have to turn children away again. To ensure this camp and others go ahead, please donate generously to the FKDC here and share this wonderful project with your friends.