On 6.5.10 I reported that The Cove, winner of the Best Feature Doc Oscar, has had difficulty finding Japanese theatres to play in “due to organized agitation, mostly likely due to fishing-industry interests paying goons to stir up trouble.” A 6.18 N.Y. Times story by Hiroko Tabuchi explains that the most virulent opponent of The Cove is Shuhei Nishimura, a right-wing firebrand who heads a group called the Society for the Restoration of Sovereignty.

With “just a handful of core members,” the group has recently committed “to countering international criticism of practices like whaling and dolphin hunting,” Tabuchi reports. “In countless rallies, the society’s members have argued that the hunts are time-honored Japanese traditions that must be protected from Western condemnation, and The Cove is now their No. 1 target.”

The anti-Cove demonstrations, he explains, are “a stark example as well of how public debate on topics deemed delicate here can be easily muffled by a small minority, the most vocal of whom are the country’s estimated 10,000 rightists who espouse hard-line stances in disputes against Tokyo’s neighbors.”