TOKYO – A court in central Japan is hearing arguments over whether dolphin hunting violates the nation's animal cruelty laws.
The plaintiffs in the case opening Friday are asking the district court in Wakayama prefecture to stop the permits from being issued.
Prefectural Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka issues the permits for the village of Taiji, where the hunts have drawn protests.
The 2009 Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" showed the village's hunts, where dolphins were chased into a cove and bludgeoned to death. In recent years, they changed their hunting method to suffocation.
The plaintiffs, a former Taiji resident and a Japanese conservationist activist, and supporters of the case say the killings remain traumatic and painful.
Wakayama conservation official Takashi Uede says the prefecture believes the hunts follow the law.