Statement on Cancelations of the Screening of “The Cove”
Three theaters situated in Tokyo and another Japanese city had been planning to screen a documentary film entitled “The Cove” which describes the annual dolphin hunt that takes place in Wakayama Prefecture before subsequently cancelling the screenings. Needless to say, this is a highly unusual situation.
The reasoning behind the cancellations was reportedly the advance notice sent by certain groups warning that they would conduct protest activities in opposition to the screenings because of their view that the film was anti-Japanese. As a result, the theaters in question cancelled the screenings to avoid causing any trouble in their local neighborhoods.
Films, as a means of expression, are clearly covered under the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. The theaters’ cancelling of the screenings deprives the film maker of an opportunity for expression and thus the freedom of expression is seriously impinged upon. Moreover, the cancellation also impairs the people’s right to know.
Regarding this film, various criticisms, including its secret filming method, were lodged by, among others, those concerned living in the vicinity of the filming site. Despite the fact that legitimate reasons may underline these criticisms, the freedom of releasing the documentary should still be guaranteed.
In addition, if screenings are cancelled due to the threat of protest activities, it could result in difficulties for the public, with whom sovereign power resides, in presenting a diverse range of opinions to society, which are necessary in helping to form their political opinions.
Therefore, the JFBA requests those in the movie industry to stand firm and proceed with screenings of the film. In addition, the JFBA requests all people concerned to respect freedom of expression to the maximum extent possible. The JFBA reaffirms its commitment to making every effort from the standpoints of protecting fundamental human rights and bringing about the realization of social justice.
June 16, 2010
Japan Federation of Bar Associations