Animal rights activist Martyn Stewart to be deported from Japan
New stories are popping up about the Japanese authorities detaining Martyn Stewart, an animal rights activist and filmmaker who has campaigned against Japan’s dolphin hunts. For the past few years, he has visited the town of Taiji and shot footage, often working alongside Sea Shepherd members.
On February 13th, Stewart posted a photo of himself in a holding cell, informing Facebook followers that he had been detained in horrible conditions:
“I am Locked in a cell room at Osaka airport waiting on an appeal to the high minister regarding my entry into Japan. I’m accused of being sea shepherd and an Eco terrorist, my footage is not liked in Japan apparently and have been accused of assaulting members of the public. In 4 years of being here for the dolphins I have maintained the law and abided by their rules. My words and pictures did the rest. The government of Japan will do anything to protect the rights of the fishermen of Taiji and the barbaric treatment of the animals involved.
Please share far and wide to bring awareness to this corrupt government and those that want to continue to brutally treat these amazing animals. The condition I’m in and the treatment I have received is nothing short of criminal”.
Stewart later updated to say that he will be deported for “unreasonable behavior” in Japan:
“Japan has chosen to deport me for my unreasonable behavior in Taiji!
This is based on a reporter that voiced his dissatisfaction to me being in Taiji and instigating problems involving Sea shepherd the group they say I belonged to. The fact that I have been to Taiji on 3 other occasions shows no logic in these false claims. They are using me as a scapegoat. They do not want westerners in Taiji. I was also told that the Japanese would rather eat glass than give into Sea Shepherd. The fate of the dolphins is Not in our hands anymore, they will kill as many as there are left. I am deeply saddened by all of this and the arrogance and corruption that the Japanese government bring to the table. This is a police/military state becoming dominated by bullying and pride.”
After seeing the English language media reports about Stewart’s detention/deportation, I did some searching about him. It turns out he was featured in an Asahi TV documentary about Sea Shepherd that I posted on this blog two years ago.
Stewart is one of the people who aggressively harasses the Japanese journalists who have come to cover the controversy in Taiji. By acting like a tremendous prick on Japanese television, he no doubt helped build sympathy in this country towards the Taiji fishermen.
A Japanese person has set up a website that chronicles Stewart’s rude and potentially illegal activities in Japan. The information gathered makes it very clear that Stewart was not following the “rules” when he was in Taiji.
It shows that he has repeatedly posted photos of the fishermen and Japanese journalists who he encountered in Taiji, often with blood-red letters spelling out “DOLPHIN KILLER” next to their faces, an act that would be considered a major violation of privacy in Japan. He has posted numerous videos to YouTube where he follows around or covertly films people in Taiji. One video he shared, which has since been removed from YouTube, allegedly showed Taiji fishermen urinating. A Japanese site translated a comment about the small penis size of the fishermen motivating their dolphin slaughter, along with encouraging comments from Facebook users who supported Stewart.
Stewart can whine all he wants about how Japan values the privacy of people over the lives of dolphins, but it is established practice for Japanese TV networks and websites to blur out faces of individuals when a violation of privacy may be taking place. If some of his victims actually filed complaints with the police about harassment, trespassing, or violation of privacy, it may have been enough to justify a decision by authorities to not let him back into Japan. (Or, as Eido has pointed out in the comment section of this post, Stewart’s activism could be interpreted as “work,” and thus a violation of his tourist visa status.)