JAPAN AND THE WHALING BAN

From the inside looking out . . .

by David Mcneill

‘There are a number of factors, both biological and economic, which led the industry to destroy one whale species after another, even though the industry was dependent on their survival. Thus, the commercial whaling ban should be kept and not mixed up with the idea of preserving tradition and/or culture. More than 70 percent of the Japanese public don’t support whaling in the Southern Ocean, but the Japanese government keeps sending its whaling fleet to do ‘research.’ This should stop.” — Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Ocean Campaign Project Manager

‘We’re not talking about hunting whales to extinction. We all know that whale resources were once overused. But the idea of thinning out some stocks exists with all other kinds of animals, ranging from deer to kangaroos. I wonder why people overreact to whales only. We used to eat whalemeat as part of our tradition, but it was banned because of external pressure. So we’re forced to protect our tradition under the name of ‘research’ hunting.” — Yasukazu Hamada, LDP lawmaker and a leading member of the Parliamentary Whaling League

‘As a way to familiarize children with whalemeat, we are supplying elementary schools with whalemeat. The meat comes from whales that were captured for research purposes and it is sold at a lower price than the usual market rate. The schools then serve the whale in a variety of ways: as cutlets, hamburger steaks and as a fried dish. For many children, it is the first time they have eaten whalemeat. They all say it is tasty.” — Hiroshi Hatanaka, director general of the [Tokyo-based quasigovernmental] Institute of Cetacean Research (writing in the Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 19, 2006)

‘The fundamental root cause of the whaling issue in Japan is a kind of trauma or destroyed pride which is handed down through generations of bureaucrats. The trauma came from Japan being labeled a cruel country, and having eggs and paint thrown at it. To lift this trauma the bureaucrats really need for the moratorium to be lifted. They would see this as a victory for their own value system. It is not really a problem of reviving the whaling industry now; it is a problem of national pride, or at least government and bureaucratic pride. They basically need a symbolic victory.” — Tetsu Sato, professor of ecology and environmental sciences, Nagano University

‘Japan, Iceland and Norway are taking whales outside of the IWC. It is lucky it is just these three. We have no guarantee that other countries will engage in self-controled, self-restrained fishing. It should be about sustainable management rather than arguments about different philosophical views of whales.” — Joji Morishita, director for international negotiations, Fisheries Agency

See related stories:
Siege mentality fuels ‘sustainability’ claims
Vitriol vies with science
Resentments sustain a moribund meat trade
The price of stalemate
Deadlock is dominant in whaling’s ‘petty parlor game’