By Tim Stack
Updated March 08, 2010 at 05:59 PM EST

The Japanese village, Taiji, featured in the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove is responding to the film’s criticism of its dolphin-hunting traditions. The mayor’s office released a statement saying, “There are different food traditions within Japan and around the world. It is important to respect and understand regional food cultures, which are based on traditions with long histories.”

The Cove‘s director Louie Psihoyos told reporters backstage last night at the Oscars, “Our hope is the Japanese people will see this film and decide themselves whether animals should be used for meat and for entertainment.”