Sakae Hemmi Tribute: Elsa Conservany www.en.elsaenc.net
When I went to Japan in 2002 for the launching of Izumi Ishii’s new dolphin watching business, I was graced with getting to meet Sakae Hemmi who was assisting with interpreting for Hardy Jones and the rest of us there for the launching. Sakae I found out is a major mover and shaker in the world of caring about nature in Japan. She and her husband founded The Elsa Nature Conservancy in Japan in 1976 (having been friends with the Adamsons of “Born Free” fame and thus naming their conservancy after the lioness Elsa from the book). The mission of E.N.C. is “to protect nature and the environment from the sky to the ground” (and I would add,’ deep into the oceans’). The work Sakae does is very grounded and pragmatic and thankless in many regards . . gathering data, making a case for what needs to be done for the good of all, telling truth to power, and doggedly continuing no matter how much the desired results are not forthcoming. I have read some of what Sakae has compiled. It is dizzying in just the amount of work it takes to do all that. But this small gentle woman with the radiant smile in her quiet way accomplishes what lesser spirits would have long since given up on. To put it simply, I adore Sakae. She will never give up her vision of wanting her own countrymen to love and honor dolphins and whales and all of nature the way she does.