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In science terms, Japan has no need at all to kill whales

by Rowan Hooper

Final arguments from the defence and prosecution were heard in mid-July, and the world court is now considering its judgment. At issue is Japan’s right to conduct its seasonal “scientific” whaling program in Antarctic waters. But the case has involved arguments about how to define science itself.

The legal challenge to Japan has been brought to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague by Australia, which has asked the Netherlands-based court to find that Japan’s whaling program is illegal because it is actually commercial whaling — not scientific research that is permissable under the 1982 moratorium on commercial whaling declared by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which went into effect in the 1985/86 coastal and pelagic hunting seasons.

On June 1, 2010, Australia initiated proceedings at the ICJ against Japan, alleging breach of international obligations concerning whaling.

Japan contends that Australia has embarked on an “alarmist crusade” against whaling.

The stakes are high. Political relations between Japan and Australia have been strained during the trial, with Japan accusing Australia of “an affront to the dignity of a nation” in bringing charges of lying about its whaling program.

But in the Southern Ocean the stakes for thousands of Minke whales, in particular, are higher. If Japan wins the case — and some commentators suggest it is in a strong position — the legal status of its whaling program could be strengthened.

Masayuki Komatsu, Japan’s chief whaling negotiator from 1999 to 2004, told The Australian newspaper that the international court could rule that Japan’s “scientific” whaling program — which many countries as well as Australia believe is a masquerade for a commercial whaling operation — is legitimate.

The worst-case scenario, for opponents of whaling, is that the court overturns the IWC’s 1985/86 moratorium on commercial whaling, known as Article 10E in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. That outcome would be disastrous for whales worldwide — and it is precisely why the legal challenge to Japan, which at first glance many people opposed to whaling would probably support, is highly risky.

Komatsu told the Sydney-based The Australian newspaper that he had been privately told by United States government sources that it was unfortunate Australia had brought the case.

“Even your government’s bureaucrats were not enthusiastic about bringing this case to the ICJ because, in the most negative case, Article 10E of the schedule may be negated,” he said.

Japan’s legal team in the Hague also feels that the law is on its side. Noriyuki Shikata, a spokesman for the Japanese delegation, was critical about Australia’s legal arguments in court. In the closing submissions last month, Shikata said: “We have not really heard effective legal rebuttal based on evidence and reasoning and we have an impression that many of the allegations are driven by emotions, not science.”

Several international legal experts gave evidence for Japan.

Allan Boyle, a professor of public international law at the University of Edinburgh, made the claim that if Japan’s current whaling program was not scientific, then neither were the research activities of numerous institutions worldwide that use fisheries data to assess sustainable catch levels.

Another British legal expert, Vaughn Lowe, an emeritus law professor from the University of Oxford, said that “there is no uniquely correct formula” for what qualifies as scientific research. He said Japan’s view of its whaling program was that it is “an absurd exaggeration to say that it is not scientific research at all.”

Let’s look at what we know about what Japan has learned from its whaling program.

Its stated objective is that it needs to kill whales in order to understand the feeding ecology and population makeup of various whale species. It needs to understand this, it says, so it can “manage” whale numbers through hunting.

Now, it is true that by catching and killing whales, and analyzing their stomach contents, a lot can be learned about cetacean biology. In the past, it was the only real method available to investigate these animals. But for many years now, it has been entirely unnecessary to kill whales in order to get the information that Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research says it needs.

That institute, by the way, operates under the auspices of the Japan Fisheries Agency, a division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which issues annual catch quotas.

In line with those quotas, between 1988 through the first half of 2011, 13,663 whales were caught under Japan’s moratorium exemption for scientific research. Of those, 3,573 whales were taken in the North Pacific Ocean and 10,090 in the Southern Ocean, including from a large area designated by the IWC in 1994 as the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

But it’s better to collect poop than to kill whales. Collecting their feces may not be the most pleasant job in the world, but analyzing the DNA found in great dollops of whale poop floating in the open sea can tell scientists — without cutting open its stomach — what animals a whale has been eating.

Meanwhile, DNA samples can be taken with relative ease from these mighty marine mammals by removing a small plug of skin from them. And a lot can be learned from their nasal mucus (snot).

Researchers can sample a whale’s breath — including its snot — by catching the gunk that spurts from its blowhole. (If you can’t imagine how you could possibly get close enough to a whale’s nose to do this, think creatively: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse, of the Zoological Society of London, flies remote-controlled helicopters over breaching whales, catching flying snot on Petri dishes strapped to the sides of the choppers.)

From these samples, scientists can determine the viruses, fungi and bacteria that live in whales’ lungs.

Killing whales provides negligible data to science. Less than 1 percent of the papers published on cetacean biology come from studies that required the killing of a whale.

In fact, tagging live whales tells you far more. GPS tags allow biologists to track whales and learn migration routes as well as daily routines. And acoustic tags record marine noise, so we can get an aural picture of the undersea soundscape — and an idea of the amount of noise pollution from boats that whales are having to tolerate.

So despite what the legal experts — not biologists — may argue, Japan’s claims that it requires lethal whaling to conduct scientific research just do not stand up.

The worry is that the ICJ will only be able to rule on the legal arguments, which may favor Japan.

It may be true that Australia’s case has in part been driven by emotions, as Shikata says. But Japan’s case is driven by national pride.

In summing up the legal case for Japan, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Koji Tsuruoka said: “We have been able to present to the world the truth about Japanese scientific whaling.”

Unfortunately, this just did not happen.

Now the court must decide what to do. There is a lot of information to process, and the ruling won’t come for four to six months.

Rowan Hooper PhD (@rowhoop on Twitter) is the News Editor of New Scientist magazine. The second volume of Natural Selections columns translated into Japanese is published by Shinchosha at ¥1,500. The title is “Hito wa Ima mo Shinka Shiteru (The Evolving Human).”

  • Hiroyuki Masanobu

    This article masquerades as an informed and considered discussion of the whaling issue and the recent case on the matter before the ICJ. But in reality it is more of the same baseless and arbitrary nonsense that has come to typify the modern-day anti-whaling movement. This instance is, however, a little more concerning as it comes from someone who apparently has a PhD and is an editor of a publication that purports to be scientific in nature.

    The author clearly opposes whaling, and it is his right to hold that opinion. But he should make clear that his opinion has absolutely no basis in law nor reason. It is arbitrary opinion and nothing more.

    Rather than preparing for the inevitable Japanese victory in the ICJ and seeking to pre-emptively disregard it as some kind of aberration produced by “legal experts”, Mr Cooper should await the court’s decision and accept it.

    He would do well to set aside his anti-whaling fetish and cease with his delusion that this issue represents anything “high stakes”. Conservation-wise, there is absolutely nothing at stake. Even if the moratorium is junked (as it ought to be), nothing changes. The viability of whales stocks will not be threatened in the slightest. To pretend otherwise is wrong and deceptive.

    The only thing at stake here is Japan’s rights under international law (as erroneously and churlishly labelled “Japan’s national pride” by Dr Cooper) that are under attack from those who espouse the arbitrary nonsense written above.

    • Logic_Man_Logic

      Japan isnʻt hunting Japanese resources in Japanese waters. Itʻs hunting resources that belong to the world, and the world has spoken that it doesnʻt want its whales hunted. Japan is clearly abusing the scientific exception, and whaling under the pretense of science is a sickening, multi-million dollar industry staffed with retired beaurocrats.

      • http://www.sheldonthinks.com/ andrew Sheldon

        The “world” is not a legal entity. They are hunting whale in international waters, for the sake of food that few people in the world actually want to eat. If whale stocks are so low, that is research that can be presented in international court, otherwise I care less if Japan obfuscates bad law. Legal agents placed in such positions of course do everything in their power to thwart the law. Change the legal framework..its centuries old and tremendously anti-intellectual; founded in extortion.
        My legal opinion to the West is that they would be better off taking the same tactics as the Japanese. i.e. Tagging the whales with electronic GPS tags, telling the Japanese their location, and them telling them they are ‘location beacons for “international scientific purposes”. They have become ‘the property of science’. Then the Japanese can go out and ‘breed’ some whales with their own ‘science’.

      • AnimuX

        Under international law whales are classified as ‘highly migratory species’ which means they don’t belong to any country whether found in international waters or in territorial seas.

        Japan annually kills endangered fin and sei whales, vulnerable sperm whales, rare Bryde’s whales, common minke whales (many from the threatened J-stock), and Antarctic minke whales. Not to mention up to 20,000 small cetaceans like dolphins, including rare beaked whales and a Dall’s porpoise hunt called ‘clearly unsustainable’ by the IWC scientific committee.

        It should be noted that only a tiny fraction of Japan’s population actually eats whale meat these days. In fact, in 2012 the government of Japan was unable to sell off 75% of the whale meat from the ‘research’ programs. In recent polling published by IFAW, 89% of respondents in Japan said they haven’t bought whale meat in the last 12 months.

        Another government program was resurrected in recent years to include whale meat in compulsory school lunches. It is safe to say that without this program most Japanese children would never know the taste of whale meat. Outside of some small coastal whaling communities, it is apparently a luxury item for older nostalgic foodies to whom whale meat was a substitute source of protein during post WWII food shortages.

        Jun Morikawa, in his book, “Whaling in Japan: Power, Politics, and Diplomacy”, affirms this and explains that whaling continues due to corrupt bureaucrats who ensure there will be ongoing tax-funded subsidies for whaling to secure high paid jobs for themselves in the commercial whaling industry. This practice is commonly referred to by the term ‘amakudari’.

        By the numbers whaling has nothing to do with Japanese food security. According to FOODEX Japan, in 2011 the nation of Japan imported over 500,000 tons of beef, at least 233,000 tons of chilled pork, more than 426,000 tons of chicken, and 2.69 million tons of marine products. The current estimated stockpile of whale meat in cold storage amounts to about 6,000 tons total – at the expense of over 17,897 whales killed by Japan under objection and special permit (as of 2011) since the moratorium on whaling began. There simply aren’t enough whales in the ocean to feed the population of Japan.

      • Mark Garrett

        “Jun Morikawa, in his book, “Whaling in Japan: Power, Politics, and Diplomacy”, affirms this and explains that whaling continues due to corrupt bureaucrats who ensure there will be ongoing tax-funded subsidies for whaling to secure high paid jobs for themselves in the commercial whaling industry. This practice is commonly referred to by the term ‘amakudari’.”

        This is EXACTLY why Japan continues to hunt whales. This and this only. The only “tradition” here is the above.

      • Hiroyuki Masanobu

        That’s interesting, because surveys consistently show a majority of Japanese support whaling.
        So are we to believe then that a majority of Japanese therefore support keeping these corrupt bureaucrats in high paid jobs in the non-existent commercial whaling industry?
        Or, should we instead believe that your theory is complete garbage, you have no idea what you’re talking about, and that you make up this nonsense because you have no rational or factual basis to support your anti-whaling agenda?

      • AnimuX

        This response is rather misleading. The government of Japan has continued to frame whaling as a Japanese national tradition (which it is not). The government has also framed all opposition to Japan’s whaling as emotional or cultural (which it is not). Those corrupt officials (amakudari) within the government who have an interest in continuing whaling use nationalism and xenophobia as a tool to retain ‘support’ by falsely characterizing whaling as inherently Japanese.

        However, the reality is that outside of a few isolated coastal villages, whale meat was only ever a substitute source of protein during post WWII food shortages. In other regions of Japan whales were never eaten and were even worshiped as gods of good fortune. When Japan’s economy recovered many years after WWII, and people could afford other meats, they stopped buying whale.

        Demand for whale meat has consistently fallen since the 1970s. Today, if the government did not include whale meat in school lunches most Japanese children would not know the taste of whale. In 2012, the government was unable to sell 75% of the whale meat obtained from its so-called ‘research’ programs. In a 2012 survey, 89% of the respondents in Japan stated they had not purchased whale meat in the previous year.

        So, it seems that as in most countries, feelings of nationalism gain ‘support’ from people for particular causes. However, in practice, the people of Japan do not support the whaling industry — they don’t buy the product. And they certainly don’t approve of the government directing money from tsunami and earthquake reconstruction to kill whales in Antarctica, or so it appeared in various Japanese news publications upon revealing the misuse of reconstruction money provided by increased taxes.

      • Mark Garrett

        “…surveys consistently show a majority of Japanese support whaling”

        Just because you say it doesn’t make it so. There are no surveys that support this hypothesis. At least none done this century.

        “So are we to believe then that a majority of Japanese therefore support keeping these corrupt bureaucrats in high paid jobs in the non-existent commercial whaling industry?”

        No, a majority of Japanese are unaware or apathetic on this subject. It’s not considered a big issue for most people and they’ve already shown their lack of support at the supermarkets.It’s also a problem in any political system where you realistically have only two choices. There will always be bad in along with the good. People often base their votes on campaign promises never realized and spin created by highly paid lobbyists.

        “Or, should we instead believe that your theory is complete garbage, you have no idea what you’re talking about, and that you make up this nonsense”

        I believe it was, in fact, Jun Morikawa, a Japanese professor, who made these statements and yes, I concur with him. The facts and figures related to this industry are not theory at all. They can be easily attained with a little bit of research.

        “…you have no rational or factual basis to support your anti-whaling agenda.”

        As I have stated before, I do not have an anti-whaling agenda. In fact, I have often told my Japanese friends when the subject comes up that I am not in favor of ending the harvests based on the intelligence of the animals as many activists argue. However, when you combine all of the other factors such as species sustainability, nutritional benefit (lack of), public consumption (lack of), and popular opinion, the answer becomes quite clear.

      • Max Erimo

        One could argue that a majority of Japanese support whaling because they simply don’t like being told they shouldn’t do it. Also as a nation the people are totally under informed about the amount of money that the whaling costs them in taxes every year. Money better spent on ailing expressways and internal infrastructure that is crumbling with age.

      • Hiroyuki Masanobu

        The interesting question then would be, why *are* the Japanese being told they shouldn’t do it? It’s perfectly sustainable, after all. The empirical data shows it’s not particularly cruel. And humans have been doing it, well, forever. Any ideas as to why this anti-whaling nonsense has popped up of late?

      • Steve Novosel

        Really? Iceland, Norway, and the US all still hunt whales. That’s a not insignificant part of the world.

      • Jaycasey

        The US doesn’t hunt whales.

      • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

        US citizens, with US government blessing and oversight, hunt whales. The US government has lobbied for their right to hunt whales. It is no more incorrect to say “the US hunts whales” than it is to say “Japan hunts whales and dolphins” because a Japanese non-profit entity, with government backing, hunts whales or private fishermen hunt dolphins.

      • AnimuX

        Certain native groups in Alaska are permitted to hunt limited numbers of whales through the International Whaling Commission which approves ‘aboriginal subsistence quotas’.

        Native groups that hunt whales, to literally ‘feed the village’, with a quota from the IWC, are not the same as a national government (Japan) killing whales on an industrial scale, to mass produce canned whale meat, for the profit of a select few, in open defiance of the IWC.

      • Hiroyuki Masanobu

        So to summarise: it’s ok when Americans do it, it’s not ok when Japanese do it. Got it.

      • AnimuX

        Summary: Native Alaskans hunting to feed themselves in a place where other food is not readily available — are not the same as — industrial exploitation to mass produce luxury items for supermarkets and restaurants to profit corrupt officials. Get it?

      • Steve Novosel

        There’s no need for the native groups to hunt whales to “feed the village”. It’s not 1874.

        If it’s bad for Japan, it’s bad for the US, and if its not bad for the US then its not bad for Japan.

        This is quite simple.

      • AnimuX

        I personally do not think ASW quotas are needed and would support eliminating all whaling. However, the fact that native Alaskans do not use the whale meat as a commercial product or hunt whales to put more product on shelves is undeniable.

        Of the arguments for whaling, subsistence is the only position with any real merit.

      • Steve Novosel

        According to you. Clearly the whalers in Japan disagree.

      • Jaycasey

        Perhaps it is simple in your mind but if you can’t tell the difference between native peoples and industrial whaling fleets then perhaps it’s too complex for you?

      • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

        And how, I wonder, is Japan “in open defiance” of the IWC, when it submits a catch request in advance for IWC approval, and the IWC signs off on that catch? Japan is playing the game in full accordance with IWC rules. Now, if you wanted to say Norway and Iceland are “in open defiance” you might have a point.

        And why do “aboriginal subsistence quotas” apply to certain communities in the world’s largest economy, but not to traditional whaling communities in the world’s third largest economy? The US lobbies for their communities, but when Japan lobbies for its, the US objects!

      • AnimuX

        You are mistaken. Japan does not get approval from anyone to kill whales. Japan issues itself these ‘special permits’ while the International Whaling Commission has repeatedly called on Japan to stop killing whales.

        Japan’s whaling is not done on a limited scale by native groups for subsistence. I would like to see Japan attempt to frame its industrial whaling as aboriginal subsistence. It would be amusing to see the claim summarily dismissed as complete and total nonsense.

        Regardless, the IWC does NOT approve of Japan’s whaling. Your statement is factually incorrect.

        Here is a quote from IWC Resolution 2007-1:

        “CONVINCED that the aims of JARPA II do not address critically important research needs;

        NOW THEREFORE THE COMMISSION

        FURTHER CALLS UPON the Government of Japan to suspend indefinitely the lethal aspects of JARPA II conducted within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”

      • Steve Novosel

        The US hunt more whales than Japan does. You need to educate yourself.

      • AnimuX

        Wrong. For example, according to the International Whaling Commission’s catch statistics, in 2005 Japan killed over 1,200 whales while native Alaskans killed only 68.

      • Jaycasey

        I encourage you to spend 10 minutes researching this matter yourself. The answer is quite easy to come by.

      • Jaycasey

        You are the one that needs to educate yourself. Japan, Norway and Iceland are the ONLY countries with commercial whaling. There is limited subsistence whaling by indigenous peoples in Alaska, Greenland, Russia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines but that is not commercial whaling and is not the problem.

      • Logic_Man_Logic

        Yes really. Only Japan hunts whales in an international whale sanctuary. Neither Iceland nor Norway hunt whale in an international sanctuary. Nobody in the US hunts whales, and no country on earth except Japan thumbs their nose at the world and hunts them in a whale sanctuary under false pretenses. If Japan wants to hunt whales, then stop signing international agreements you have no intention of honoring with full faith. In the meantime, the dishonesty that this is science is just that… a bold face and stupid lie that the Japanese are far too good a people to continue perpetuating.

      • Steve Novosel

        Yes, the US hunts whales. Don’t say they don’t.

    • AnimuX

      There is nothing arbitrary or nonsensical about the article. It first recounts in summary the issue of the ICJ hearings in which Australia argued against Japan’s ‘research whaling’ programs. The article then goes on to briefly examine the use of lethal methods by Japan to research whales.

      Those pro-whaling antagonists who seek to denounce every informed opinion which does not promote whaling will indeed describe the author’s statements as ‘biased’ (or worse). However, the fact remains that scientists around the world have on many occasions publicly criticized Japan’s abuse of ‘science’ as a loophole to undermine international conservation efforts.

      For example, In 2002, in an open letter published in the New York Times, twenty-one scientists (including three Nobel laureates) stated emphatically, “We, the undersigned scientists, believe Japan’s whale research program fails to meet minimum standards for credible science.” The letter specifically states there is no compelling reason to kill whales in order to obtain data from them.

      Japan’s response to this letter dismissed the opinions of these scientists by claiming they did not understand the provisions of the ICRW, sought to politicize the issue, and ignored the stated goals of the whaling ‘research’.

      However, in a 2003 response to similar accusations, published in BioScience, IWC scientific committee members supported the 2002 rebuke of Japan’s whaling programs. The scientists stated, “Japan’s scientific whaling program is so poor that it would not survive review by any major independent funding agency,” and when it comes to misrepresenting commercial activities as science, “there has rarely been a more egregious example of this misrepresentation than Japan’s scientific whaling program.” They also explained that the vast majority of publications resulting from these programs have absolutely no value for the management of whale stocks.

      The author’s criticism of Japan’s ‘research whaling’ is both reasonable and accurate. Rowan Hooper’s opinion on this matter is, in fact, consistent with previous scientific condemnation of the JARPA, JARPN, JARPA II, and JARPN II programs. Australia contends that Japan is in breach of its obligations as a signatory to the 1946 ICRW to adhere to the decisions of the International Whaling Commission in good faith.

    • Michael Radcliffe

      The main point of the article is that research on whales can be conducted without killing them. Your comment makes no attempt at all to address that point, and seems therefore rather disingenuous.

      • Sergei Witte

        So what?

        We can research space without sending rockets to the moon, but I’m assuming you don’t oppose that particular practice?

    • topes78

      I couldn’t agree more with Masanobu san. I am surprised this article was written by someone with a PhD. The article in and of itself is contradictory and obviously written by someone with an agenda that is anti-whaling. Of course this is fine to be anti-whaling, but if one passes off an emotional view as scientific or legal evidence that is wrong. Yes the writer points out that there may be other methods to collect information about whales, but never states that the methods employed are completely useless. The writer even goes on to state “killing whales provides negligible data to science”, while I do not have a PhD I do believe the words negligible and no have different meanings. Thus the writer has actually supported Japan’s argument, and as such he cannot jump to the statement “Japan’s claims that it requires lethal whaling to conduct scientific research just do not stand up”.
      Further, Japan is not the only country to be whaling (excepting the groups allowed to whale for ancestral reasons for this discussion), Norway whales to a self-imposed quota of 1,000 Minke whales, and Iceland whales both Minke and Fin whales. These two countries whale for purely commercial reasons, but the outrage is nothing like the outrage against Japan. Norway and Iceland have registered objections to paragraph 10e, thus the moratorium does not apply to them. Perhaps it would just be easier for Japan to do the same. Recently South Korea has also stated that they will resume whaling for scientific and thus food.
      Also it is important to note for some that make the argument (like mameha1977 said above) about whale meat in supermarkets, that according to the scientific whaling rules, the meat is not allowed to go to waste. So the meat from the scientific whaling is not being wasted and used for human consumption. Also since 2009 some of the whale meat we see in the supermarkets here comes from Norway.
      I understand that this is an emotional debate for so many, but I would hope that people could look at the facts of the matter and realize the actions of Japan do fall under the rules for scientific research.

      • AnimuX

        This response is unfortunately typical of pro-whaling antagonists with little to no knowledge of the history of commercial whaling in the 20th century. In every case, regardless of whether the opinion comes from a PhD or grassroots protesters, these pro-whaling responses seek to frame every objection to whaling as ‘emotional’ or ‘cultural’.

        However, Australia’s case before the ICJ presented legal and scientific reasoning against Japan’s abuse of Article VIII of the ICRW.

        Scientific criticism of Japan’s so-called ‘research whaling’ programs is not new or unique to the author of the article. In fact, scientists all over the world have repeatedly condemned Japan’s ‘research’ as flawed and unnecessary. The IWC has repeatedly called on Japan to stop killing whales and use non-lethal methods of study.

        Japan happens to be the subject of this article because of the ICJ case and specifically the abuse of science in order to justify undermining international conservation efforts. Iceland and Norway both export whale meat to Japan. However, Iceland and Norway do not send their whalers thousands of miles away from their shores to kill whales within the boundaries of an international whale sanctuary. Regardless, commercial whaling by all three nations is opposed internationally by governments and activist groups.

        Japan cannot simply object to the moratorium on commercial whaling because Japan previously, officially, accepted the moratorium. Some argue that Iceland is similarly bound by a previous acceptance of the moratorium but, due to some sketchy procedures at the IWC, managed to reverse its previous agreement. Some IWC member nations do not recognize Iceland to be in adherence to the ICRW as a result.

        Also, the South Korean government quickly withdrew its suggestion for renewed whaling after the announcement.

        Article VIII of the ICRW does say that whales taken under special permit should be processed. However, it does NOT state that any country may pretend to do science in order to defy restrictions set by the IWC under article V.

    • Kay Louise Kelly

      When you say there is ‘nothing at stake’, what you mean is that there are a thousand lives at stake but yours isn’t one of them.

      • Sergei Witte

        That’s true. But then it would also be true that there would be “hundreds of thousands of lives at stake” if I took a can of bug spray to an ants nest. Sounds dramatic, sure, but really it isn’t.

  • Toolonggone

    Well, I don’t have a problem with author’s specific position on whaling, per se. I still don’t know the ends of Japan’s argument on whaling, since the ethics of their scientific research is under question. If Japan says their whaling is scientific research based on specific purposes related to marine biology or eco-science, does it always require killing of species in the end? If it is considered as science, then what would it possibly be its ends?– some kind of medical research on cancer, stem cells or development of new drugs!?

  • mameha1977

    If this is scientific whaling, then stop selling the whale meat. (I see whale meat in supermarkets all the time, this is no secret)

    Japan says it needs kill whales for scientific reasons. OK, so then Japan should simply stop selling the meat. That would then put an end to any claims that science is a disguise for commercial whaling. Japan could continue with its dignified and honest scientific whaling without hassle, and objectors would be happy because the commercial side has ended. Everyone’s a winner.

    So why don’t Japan take this simple step? For me, the answer can only be that Japan wants commercial whaling and has no interest in scientific research.

    • Hiroyuki Masanobu

      Actually, the provision in the ICRW treaty under which Japan conducts its scientific whaling program explicitly requires that the meat be sold. If Japan did not sell the whale meat, it would be in breach of international law.

      • AnimuX

        Article VIII of the ICRW does say that whales taken under special permit must be processed. However, it does NOT state that any country may pretend to do science in order to continue commercial whaling in defiance of the International Whaling Commission’s limitations established under Article V.

        New Zealand argued the point before the ICJ that Article VIII of the ICRW is not separate or independent from the rest of the convention.

      • Emily Seferović

        interesting… ultimately this brings us to the reality that whalers are profiting from the sale of what is/ what will eventually become whale meat– the very argument of anti-whaling parties.

        If you look at any respectable scientific institute that does comprehensive studies on biological specimen, you won’t see residual tissues ending up in the food system…

      • mats

        The ICRW treaty does not say you have to sell the meat, it says your’e allowed to.

  • Eagle

    Apart from whaling and business, I don’t know if it really worth for Japan to get in such a mess for that and risk international relations and good partnership with Australia. Now, it is not only the whaling but also it has become a fight saving face in front of the world by defending something that is practically impossible.

    In modern democracies, one would expect that politics and business does not mix and business circles won’t control the government. More importantly, the government wouldn’t influence, encourage, and aid financially ailing business circles. Here, the government protects and even support, thus encourages, the whaling business out of national proud or possible material gains, and even allows this it to grow into a political and international issue.

    As for the whaling, the fishes, the whales are swimming all over the ocean from here to there. They are everybody’s and every countries’ shared “property” to speak so, they don’t specifically belong to any countries, they belong to all countries, therefore all other countries can sound their opinion and have the right to protect their own interests.

    Otherwise, I myself saw whale meet sold in supermarkets all over Japan at many times in Tokyo and at the country. They were packed in vinyl, sliced like bacon and 100 gram cost around 900 JPY. They do merchandise their scientific whale meet.

    • kamakiri

      “In modern democracies, one would expect that politics and business does not mix and business circles won’t control the government. More importantly, the government wouldn’t influence, encourage, and aid financially ailing business circles” you got to be joking right?

  • Peter Nozawa Thurwachter

    Maybe japan is scientifically trying to study if killing about .05% of the minke whale population each year is sustainable. Their end goal is sustainable commercial whaling after all. As for eating the meat, I thought not letting anything go to waste, especially when something lost it’s life was best practice.

    • fun_on_tv

      I have heard about the scientific justification over and over again. However from what i have seem no newspaper has published the conclusions. So either there is no real research going on or Japanese English language newspaper (and the international media) aren’t covering it.
      Also I note with some interest there is a wild boar problem in Kobe. How much scientific research is going on with that? Every year a couple people have been attacked. So surely we need to apply the same “scientific method” to work out the population and the sustainability of eating wild boar. There is a high demand for it. One of my students said it’s very delicious.

      • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

        Newspapers do not print scientific papers (thank heavens, given the quality control of the press…). The ICR submits scientific papers to the IWC every year. The scientific committee of the IWC is on record as saying the data shows that a sustainable hunt of certain species is now possible. Unfortunately the scientific committee of the IWC does not set policy, they advise on it, and the policy making of the IWC has been taken over by countries who deliberately ignore the IWC charter and have stated that they will never allow commercial whaling to restart, ever, no matter what. It is faith-based politics, pure and simple, and should have no place in the modern world.

      • AnimuX

        The 1946 ICRW has a conservation mandate. In fact the following words appear in the preamble of the convention:

        “Considering that the history of whaling has seen over-fishing of one area after another and of one species of whale after another to such a degree that it is essential to protect all species of whales from further over-fishing…”

        Even in 1946 it was understood that intervention was required to prevent whaling industries from wiping out the world’s large whales. In fact, the ICRW followed previous international agreements from the 20s and 30s which concerned regulation of whaling and in particular the possible commercial extinction of blue whales.

        Unfortunately, Japan and several other whaling nations refuse to adhere to the rules established by the IWC over many decades — even before the moratorium on commercial whaling.

        Today, Japan hunts both endangered and non-endangered (but protected) species including endangered fin whales, endangered sei whales, vulnerable sperm whales, rare Bryde’s whales, common minke whales (many from the threatened J-stock) and Antarctic minke whales. Not to mention up to 20,000 small cetaceans like dolphins, including rare beaked whales and a Dall’s porpoise slaughter called ‘clearly unsustainable’ by the IWC scientific committee.

        Furthermore, scientists within the IWC and throughout the world in general have repeatedly condemned Japan’s so-called ‘research’ as flawed, unnecessary, and worse.

        In 2002, in an open letter published in the New York Times, twenty-one scientists (including three Nobel laureates) stated emphatically, “We, the undersigned scientists, believe Japan’s whale research program fails to meet minimum standards for credible science.” The letter specifically states there is no compelling reason to kill whales in order to obtain data from them.

        In 2003, published in BioScience, IWC scientific committee members supported the 2002 rebuke of Japan’s whaling programs. The scientists stated, “Japan’s scientific whaling program is so poor that it would not survive review by any major independent funding agency,” and when it comes to misrepresenting commercial activities as science, “there has rarely been a more egregious example of this misrepresentation than Japan’s scientific whaling program.” They also explained that the vast majority of publications resulting from these programs have absolutely no value for the management of whale stocks.

      • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

        Your bias is showing in your selective editing of the ICRW. Would you care to share the rest, and not just the third sentence while carefully deleting the context that sentence is in? No? Thought not, so allow me:

        “The Governments whose duly authorised representatives have subscribed hereto,

        Recognizing the interest of the nations of the world in safeguarding for future generations the great natural resources represented by the whale stocks;

        Considering that the history of whaling has seen over- fishing of one area after another and of one species of whale after another to such a degree that it is essential to protect all species of whales from further over-fishing;

        Recognizing that the whale stocks are susceptible of natural increases if whaling is properly regulated, and that increases in the size of whale stocks will permit increases in the number of whales which may be captured without endangering these natural resources;

        Recognizing that it is in the common interest to achieve the optimum level of whale stocks as rapidly as possible without causing widespread economic and nutritional distress;

        Recognizing that in the course of achieving these objectives, whaling operations should be confined to those species best able to sustain exploitation in order to give an interval for recovery to certain species of whales now depleted in numbers;

        Desiring to establish a system of international regulation for the whale fisheries to ensure proper and effective conservation and development of whale stocks on the basis of the principles embodied in the provisions of the International Agreement for the Regulation of Whaling, signed in London on 8th June, 1937, and the protocols to that Agreement signed in London on 24th June, 1938, and 26th November, 1945; and

        Having decided to conclude a convention to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry;

        Have agreed as follows:-”

        Followed by the various specific articles specifying how the ICRW was to manage and promote sustainable whaling. The ICRW and IWC is not, and never was, an anti-whaling agreement or body. It is a pro-whaling agreement, and was a pro-whaling body until hijacked by (selectively) anti-whaling nations.

      • AnimuX

        Of course, the ICRW is indeed intended for the ‘regulation of whaling’. However, as previously mentioned, there is a conservation mandate established by the ICRW.

        That’s why Article V of the ICRW empowers the International Whaling Commission to set catch quotas, to close seasons and areas to hunting, to protect particular species or stocks, and even to determine which methods of whaling are allowed and which are not.

        Unfortunately, pro-whaling antagonists tend to overlook the fact that the International Whaling Commission — as it is empowered by the ICRW — has prohibited commercial whaling as of the 1985/86 season and protected nearly all species of whales from additional hunting before the moratorium.

        The IWC has also repeatedly called upon Japan to stop killing whales.

  • Michael Colby

    Just leave them be, please. It benefits everything. Future research will ensure non-invasive advances.

  • Steven R. Simon

    Simon says that the only way Japan can maintain a whaling industry is to tie it in to aboriginal Ainu fishing rights.

  • ben260

    How many whales must be killed to reach the scientific conclusion ‘whales are delicious’?

  • Kay Louise Kelly

    Isn’t it annoying when someone frames an argument as “logic versus not-logic” when the actual argument is a pretty straightforward conflict of interest?
    In this case the conflict of interest between a commercial interest wishing to make money by killing whales, and the whales themselves along with those who wish them well.

    • Sergei Witte

      I believe you may be misusing the term “conflict of interest”.
      See: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conflict+of+interest
      Out of curiosity though, who exactly is making money by killing whales? After all, the Japanese research program has been losing millions of dollars for years. And someone has to pay to keep all that uneaten whale meat in refrigeration.
      When you think about it, the only people getting rich from whaling are the organisations (and their highly paid executives) who make money from opposing it, such as Sea Shepherd. Go figure!

      • Mark Garrett

        “When you think about it, the only people getting rich from whaling are the organisations (and their highly paid executives) who make money from opposing it, …”

        Can’t imagine anyone from Sea Shepard is getting rich off it, but you’re right about organizations and executives. I think you ought to look a little closer to home. JAFF, its hierarchy, lobbyists and politicians are the real benefactors. Even the fishermen don’t make much and they’re the ones caught in the crossfire. But I wouldn’t feel too sorry for them as it’s their complete unwillingness to change and adapt that has put them in this position.

      • Monica Gilbert

        Exactly the point! If the Japanese “research” program has been losing millions of dollars for years, and nobody is eating the whale meat rotting in freezers, WHY are the Japanese continuing to support and promote killing whales, supposedly for research?

        As AnimuX has stated many times, but I will paraphrase … it’s a farce! The Japanese are continuing to dig their heels in, quite legally too thanks to the IWC loophole, because they will be seen to lose face. Propping up an industry with funds donated by the earth’s citizens to help those ravaged by the 2011 tsunami is unacceptable and in my mind, it’s fraud!

        If Japan had spent the money on fixing the REAL problem of Fukushima’s nuclear reactors leaking radioactive water into the WORLD’S oceans, perhaps they’d warrant some sympathy. Sadly, that’s not going to happen because senior bureaucrats won’t make enough money from it. Or perhaps that’s why the problem hasn’t been fixed? Because the money has been channelled into propping up the outdated practice of whaling.

      • AnimuX

        One important correction to make:

        Japan’s government raised taxes specifically for reconstruction efforts to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami destruction which was widely approved by the Japanese public.

        However, a large amount of that tax money was then misdirected to completely unrelated projects.

        Millions were spent on Antarctic whaling thousands of miles away from the communities suffering from the tragic devastation of a natural disaster. This was widely condemned by the Japanese public and press.

        However, it wasn’t funding donated to aid groups like the Red Cross. It was tax dollars taken from efforts to help tsunami survivors and then misused to prop up whaling…

    • Mark Garrett

      Except they’re not actually making any money killing the whales.

  • Max Erimo

    What I can’t understand is the amount of money that is allocated each year in the budget for this scientific whaling. Another example of how the Japanese people have no idea or even care how the governement of the day uses its taxes. This money couldbe used for childcare, paid parenting leave, or most importantly creating an environment indusive for having children. maybe this could be the new mantra.
    “A whale a day keeps the children at bay…….”

    • Mr. Reposter

      Or to deal with the terrible plight of homeless people in Tokyo who are swept under the rug and ignored by government after government. Sorry, I forgot that fighting for the ability to slaughter whales that nobody eats trumps caring for our fellow man.

  • Mark Garrett

    What I find really interesting about this story and others like it is that no one ever gets to the real heart of the issue when it’s right there staring you in the face.

    Look at the facts. Facts that aren’t disputed by either side.

    1. Japan has and has always had a very large fishing industry with whaling as one integral part of it.
    2. Over the last (X amount of) years, world opinion regarding the necessity and morality of whaling has grown significantly in opposition.
    3. Despite point 2, Japan has fought vociferously to maintain its industry, even finding loopholes to allow for continued harvesting.
    4. Japanese consumption of whale has and continues to wain.

    When we consider these facts the logical next question is, “why”?
    Why continue when so many people are against it?
    Why continue when no one is eating the meat? (The industry shipped just 5,000 tons in 2011, compared with 233,000 tons at the peak in 1962, and is expected to be half that, 2400 tons, this year)

    This is the real crux of the story. The answer? Subsidies. BIG subsidies.
    An industry with less than 1000 employees that has received $400 million from the government (a number that has been inexplicably rising), including about $25 million that was intended for reconstruction in Tohoku.

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is by far the most powerful organization in Japan, and has been since the days and years following WWII when it was tasked with helping Japan rebuild in return for a big piece of the political pie. There is no question that farmers and fisherman had a big hand in the growth of what would become the world’s second largest economy, but their time has passed. Pre-war, about 80% of Japanese worked in the industry, and immediately after still about 50%, now it’s less than 3%, with most over the age of 60.

    The real issue isn’t the legality or morality of whaling. Just as it isn’t the sensibility or ethics of joining free trade agreements. It’s the ridiculous amount of power and policy that the JAFF controls. This is what needs to be addressed and after that all of the other matters of contention will sort themselves out.

    • Sergei Witte

      Mark, you might be right that the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has a lot of power. I don’t know much about that topic, but it does stand to reason given Japan’s unusually precarious food security situation. And the fiscal matters you commented on are surely a matter for Japanese taxpayers and voters.

      But what I do know is that the real question to be asked regarding whaling is not “why”, but “why not”.

      After all, people kill animals for many reasons. Provided the kill is sustainable and as humane as possible, then it is ok. Thus, it should be fine for Japan to harvest whales as it always has, given that its current and proposed whale harvests are both sustainable and as humane as possible (all scientific evidence confirms this).

      So as I said, the question you ought to be asking is, “Why not?”.

      • Mark Garrett

        Please see above for numerous reasons. Asking “why not” is an act of ignorance and languor. Instead of putting the onus on the other party to defend their position, try presenting arguments that support your stance.

        Believe it or not, I am actually not for or against whaling on an ethical or moral level. If you could convince me that there were significant merits in the practice, such as the nutritional benefits or for food protection measures, or even real science, I could likely be swayed, but there simply aren’t any good reasons (and I’m sorry but “tradition” doesn’t work) to continue the practice.

      • Sergei Witte

        No. As I have stated, the onus very much lies upon those who seek to prohibit an existing and historical practice to demonstrate why the status quo ought to change. It does not lie with those who merely seek to continue a practice they have undertaken for millenia.

        After all, no chicken, cattle or pig farmer is asked to justify his or her trade. Accordingly, the Japanese whaler ought not be required to provide any justification for his or her trade.

        If you have a convincing argument for the prohibition of whaling, I’d be interested to hear it.

      • AnimuX

        There are international agreements which regulate whaling (or at least attempt to). Japan’s industrial whaling is not the continuation of an ancient tradition. In fact, whaling was only ever historically conducted by a small number of isolated coastal villages in a very limited manner until the start of the 20th century. Then Japan adopted Norwegian technology, methods, and even actual Norwegians as whalers for the mass production of whale oil.

        Today, Japan’s whaling continues entirely for the benefit of corrupt bureaucrats who ensure tax funded subsidies for whaling only to secure high paid jobs for themselves in the commercial industry. This practice is so common in Japan’s government they have a word for it: ‘amakudari’.

        Commercial whaling has been internationally prohibited due to a century of over exploitation that nearly wiped out the world’s large whale species leaving many species still endangered today as a result. Japan lost the vote on whaling in 1982.

        Whales are not livestock raised under controlled conditions for the human food supply whose survival as a species is guaranteed by human intervention. Under international law, whales are defined as ‘highly migratory species’. They don’t belong to any country whether found in territorial seas or international waters.

        There is no economic, nutritional, or scientific justification for killing whales. Japan hasn’t killed a whale for ‘tradition’ in over a century.

      • Sergei Witte

        If you must continue to cut and paste the same old stuff, could you at least review your posts and halve them in length?

      • AnimuX

        The facts do not change from one post to the next.

      • Mr. Reposter

        Hahaha yeah, in their traditional, historical whale processing factory ships, amirite?

        Geez.. Give me a break.

        Convincing argument: Sea Shepherd will continue to waste the $400m annual spend of Japanese taxpayers’ money on whaling by limiting their ability to catch many whales. We’ve got more money and more power than the Japanese whaling industry. You do the maths, guy.

  • Jaycasey

    The bottom line is that this cruel “harvest” is unnecessary and does great damage to Japan’s image worldwide. If Japan wants to damage its soft power for so niche an industry then it is doing a great job. National pride is sorely misplaced in this case because Japan’s actions are revealing that this nation will lie in the face of common sense and world disgust.

    • Sergei Witte

      What does necessity have to do with it?

      • AnimuX

        According to Australia and New Zealand representatives at the ICJ, any use of Article VIII to conduct ‘lethal research’ can only be legitimately conducted in order to meet critical research needs. So, legally speaking, necessity is a limitation on whaling.

      • Hiroyuki Masanobu

        How exactly did you go from “According to Australia and New Zealand representatives at the ICJ…” straight to “So, legally speaking, necessity is a limitation on whaling”?

        You didn’t really think that one through, did you?

      • AnimuX

        It was quite simple. Australia and New Zealand sent legal experts to argue a matter before an International Court and presented the legal opinion –complete with supporting evidence– that Article VIII of the ICRW must only be undertaken for critical research needs. Furthermore, the IWC has repeatedly issued resolutions calling on Japan to stop killing whales, in part, because lethal research methods have been determined to be completely unnecessary for the management of whale stocks.

        Would you like more time to think that one through?

      • emma white

        hay im with you guys

  • robertwgordonesq

    If the Japanese are “hiding” their true motive for whaling behind the guise of scientific studies…Are whaling opponents hiding their true racist motive behind the guise of “environmentalism”?

    By “racist”, I mean targeting a specific group because of perceived inferiority, perceived superiority, or vengeance based on ethnicity.

    Here is why I say that.

    I watched the movie “The Cove” because I wanted to see what
    all the hub-bub was about.

    It was a great movie actually. Well executed. Well planned and quite
    entertaining.

    However, it wasn’t a documentary….it was a “shock-umentary”,
    specifically designed and edited to cast the Japanese in a bad light and make the Japanese the target of venom.

    Simply, one was made to believe that the Japanese are the
    only ones conducting dolphin hunts.

    However, I can’t recall a single mention in the movie, of the whale and dolphin hunts taking place in the Faroe Islands in Denmark.

    If you look at this website, the Danish whale and dolphin
    hunts are (in my opinion) ten times as gruesome as anything going on in Taji.

    See website here: http://www.lifeinthefastlane.ca/gruesome-whale-and-dolphin-bloodletting-massacre-in-europe/offbeat-news

    See also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gydea-nUzFw

    Also, Danish whaling is done out in the open, no need to
    sneak around to get photos. It also seems to be a total community event and quasi-celebration with even children getting in on the act.

    So why wasn’t *that* featured in “The Cove”???

    Was it because the Danes are European?

    Further, if Australians are so concerned about the environment, why is the slaughter of kangaroos “as pests” taking place in Australian lands…where the Australians can actually do something to stop it?

    See the kangaroo slaughter here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbn3c8EcNRk

    A lot of people think kangaroos are just as cute as dolphins.

    All this leads me to believe that the outcry against Japanese whaling is merely elitist racism under the guise of environmentalism, having very little to do with “global property” or the protection of animals.

  • Frank Fortune

    How could anyone possibly justify the murder of these animals for any reason? I mean, it’s not like slaughtering cows or pigs…these are highly intelligent creatures with their own culture…It would be like a alien species coming to earth and murdering us all for science…

    • Hiroyuki Masanobu

      Spot on, Frank.
      I especially like how you managed to avoid hyperbole, emotive drivel, broad-brush generalizations without scientific basis, and absurd hypothetical metaphors.

      • Frank Fortune

        One doesn’t need to write a dissertation on the subject. It actually goes without saying any words at all. The needless murder of these whales is sickening – but just as sickening is the attempt to hide behind science. Hey, but thanks for the constructive criticism! Don’t you hate it when people use sarcasm as a replacement for actual thought?

  • Priyadarsini Nair

    It is poor intellegience that we seek to justify such a henious act in acronyms, law and politics..
    There is simply no justification and there cannot be for anyone who respects the fact that we share this space we have with many creatures and they have equal rights to this world we share.
    If only Japan can understand this simple fact and stop masking such crimes as “research”.
    We have moved light years away from disection in the name of research..

  • Eric

    I don’t have a problem with them hunting whales. I just dislike the way they hunt whales.

  • eskemo

    So many are outraged by the ‘so-called’ whaling for research AND dolphin capturing/butchering by the Japanese government. There’s no excuse. The world is watching with complete disgust. In protest, I will continue to voice my opinion as well as support/donate to organizations created to protect marine mammals from the Japanese government and other nations who pose a threat.

  • gallowaygrumblefield

    Are there no Japanese who will stand up to this barbarian practice of whale murder?

  • hudsonstewart

    “Whales” are not an endangered species because they are not a species. Minke whales, the species of whale that Japan predominantly hunts, are not endangered. The Antarctic minke whale population is estimated at over 500,000 whales. Japan kills several hundred whales per year, hardly enough to put even a tiny dent in the population.

    The uproar over Japan’s whaling has nothing to do with endangered species. It has everything to do with Westerners seeing whales as “sentient beings” that are somehow ranked higher than cows and chickens on the totem pole of what is OK to eat. So it’s “barbaric” to kill a few hundred whales a year, but it’s not barbaric to cram millions of chickens and cows into spaces so confined that they can never move their entire lives? Chickens and cows that are so riddled with diseases that they have to be pumped full of antibiotics?

    The debate over whaling is an example of hypocrisy at it’s finest.

    • moth

      That seems logical, except that it doesn’t actually discredit fighting against whale hunting, but rather discredits the mass-production of animal products by unbelievably cruel means. “If we do one set of super awful things then I guess we should do all of the super awful things.” is not a logical argument. You should try to stop this awful thing, as well as the other awful things that you mentioned. Less cow, more kale my friend. Regards from your friendly Hokkaido vegan. :-)

      • hudsonstewart

        You’re right, I don’t mean to justify one wrong with another. But in my experience, many of the anti-whaling crowd are not vegans and happily consume factory-farmed meat products from their own country without a word of protest. The drop in the pond of animal slaughter that is Japanese whaling poses an easy target because it is easier to sit in judgment of others rather than oneself. People should first look to correcting the injustices within their own societies before turning to other countries. I have a feeling that most of the anti-whaling crowd is also against slaughtering horses for meat, but the United States is a huge exporter of horse meat to Europe. Where are the protests and the TV shows?

      • http://www.boats.za.net/ Maarten Kronberger

        Here’s the difference between, livestock (Cows, chickens, etc…) and whales. Livestock are farmed. In other words people are making sure that the animals (In South Africa at least) are healthy and have better, more protected life than non livestock animals.

        Because people put in the work to keep these animals happy they should share in the spoils.

        Whales on the other hand are not farmed, and to tell you the truth I cannot see any way of keeping such an animal as livestock.

        I can also guarantee you this. If chickens where not able to be farmed, they would have gone the route of the Dodo (Literally). As you would know the dodo was hunted to extinction by us. The same thing could easily occur to any other species on earth as the only animals that outnumber humans are insectiod, and thus of lesser nutritional value (for the most part)

        Also: these whalers don’t just take minke’s they also hunt hump backed whales. Those same whales visit our coast around August each year. And we have definitely noticed the decline…

        I am a proud meat eater, but I cannot condone this killing. there is just no proper logical non commercial reason for this exploitation.

      • Tracy L. K.

        Well said!

      • moth

        I don’t know about correcting the injustices at home being superior and more crucially immediate than correcting those abroad. There are cruelties committed abroad which are more cruel than the most awful regular practices in either my home country of America or where I live now in Japan (and there’s some sick stuff going on in both of those countries for sure) but that existence of bad things at home shouldn’t preempt criticism of the bad things abroad. As my grandmother says when I get too critical of the UN: “Don’t let ‘perfect’ get in the way of ‘good’”.

        Additionally, while this is a very visible and easy target like you say, it’s also one with very tangible and clear goals. Eliminating factory farming as an institution (or even better, consumption of flesh as a practice) is just so impossibly grand a goal as to be a laughably glorious pipe-dream in the eyes of all but the most naive vegan. But eliminating the practice of whaling could be solved by one international case. Shaming Japan into halting this despicable practice would halt the most extensive whale harvesting practices today, and could easily topple the market for whale meat on the whole even bringing down the few remaining other nations in the practice (because Iceland was just too idyllic a place not to be partaking in at least ONE despicable international scandal). It’s a very easily reachable goal with a lot of support, I don’t understand how throwing your voice behind it could be in question regardless how dubious and unexamined you may let the rest of your personal habits be.

      • Tracy L. K.

        I completely agree! I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would try to justify this behavior! Nobody is saying that America is perfect or that we & other countries don’t need to continue to change the way our food is treated but to say we should do one before the other is nonsense! I don’t have a problem with Eskimos or others eating whale because their ancestors did but I do have a problem with ill conceived logic that you have to kill an animal to study it! Also, killing & exploiting animals of any kind for profit! Changing the way the worlds food supply is treated is going to take longer than getting people to stop killing whales for unnecessary reasons! I don’t understand how anyone can defend or try to justify that! Were not treating chickens, cows & pigs the way we should so just go ahead & let them kill all the whales they want? How does that make any sense? -peace truth liberty unity-

  • doug

    Whales will be the next extinct creature, right behind Elephants

    • eskemo

      The US is destroying 6 tons of confiscated ivory in Denver today. I can’t fathom how many animals it all could be from. Sickening!!

  • Bob Franklin

    The people who support and do this are the worst people on this Earth! You are the scum of the world! No wonder the ocean keeps punishing you, you deserve it 100%!!

  • Tracy L. K.

    This is so beyond disgusting! There is nothing anyone can say to justify this kind of behavior! With allllll the options for food this should not be one! With allllll the options to do do their scientific research, killing them should not be one! Whales do not produce offspring at the rate of chickens or cows & to compare killing whales to killing chickens & cows is beyond absurd & just shows your level of intelligence! The things mankind continues to do to the animals on this planet & in our oceans is less than human! The wrath of mother nature is upon us! We are all responsible for these atrocities as long as they continue! Elephant tusk, rhinos, shark fin soup, orcas at seaworld, tigers, lions, bears etc. being kept as pets & for shows…..All of these things need to stop now. We are living in the future now, right now, this is not barbaric times, this is modern times & we humans need to start realizing that & taking responsibility for what we do & what we don’t do when we sit idly by & let these atrocities continue! There would not be killer whales at seaworld if everyone would stop going! There wouldn’t be a need forsny of the above mmentioned deaths of these animals if there would stop being a market for it! Until people vote with their money, brain & compassion for other living creatures these less than human acts will continue for generations! Will my grandson get to see whales & elephants in their natural habitat? Probably not! Very sad, very sad indeed! I’ve never taken my 3 boy’s to seaworld & never will, nor will I take my grand children! Karma! What humans are doing to this planet will continue to come back to us as it is very plain to see with all the natural disasters that continue to take place! THAT IS NOT GLOBAL WARMING…..IT’S REVENGE!! -peace truth liberty unity-

    • Arc

      I do not understand how you can say “The things mankind continues to do to the animals on this planet & in our oceans is less than human!” while casually defending the slaughter of cows, chickens, and other ‘regular’ foods. Truthfully, it is easy to place judgment when you are not partaking in the activity. While dolphins and chickens are not the same in terms of intelligence, can chickens not feel pain and experience emotion? We do know that they have demonstrated object permanence, and have displayed other surprising cognitive functions. Pigs are more intelligent than dogs, yet are consumed en mass and treated horrifically.

      I am against whaling. I am against the dolphin hunts. But it is easy to do that because I am not from a culture where whaling was/is common. You speak of removing the market for animals you personally care about (dolphins, tigers, bears, whales) while justifying the use of those you use (chickens, cows). But those mechanical food industries are producing ~18% of greenhouse gases and are responsible for much more pain and suffering than the whaling has inflicted. You speak of there being food options available so one can avoid whaling, but there are also a multitude for those who want to avoid animal industry as well.

      We can’t move forward if we do not acknowledge our own faults. My country kills 7 billion land animals a year. And the standards of care allow them to be debeaked, dehorned, castrated, and docked without anesthetic. It allows sows to be locked in tiny cage for practically their entire lives, not even allowed to turn around. It allows cows to be continuously impregnated and have their offspring taken within a few days of birth for milk production. Now, how can I call another country barbaric when mine is just as bad?

      • ziggypop

        I am with you and am trying very hard to stop the torture in my own country as well. We are global citizens, and we must stop the horror.

      • Tracy L. K.

        Umm, no where in my comment do I casually defend the killing of chickens, cows or pigs. I said what we continue to do to animals on this planet, which would include those as well. I also said that you cannot “compare” killing whales to killing chickens, cows & pigs. That is in no way, shape or form “çasually” defending the killing of those animals! I also was not passing judgment on any one country when I clearly state “The Things Mankind Continues To Do….” I think the word Mankind would we All inclusive; not just meant for one country or one group of people! I hate when people have to spin the truth or statements by ithers just to suit their own agendas! I’m 47yrs.old. I am well aware of & have seen several documentaries on the abuse, mistreatment & horrific conditions our food supply is put through! That is also why I stated that people can vote with their money to make a difference & continue to change the way ALL animals are treated! Some companies have already taken steps to stop the cruelty of these animals that we eat. No, it’s not where we would all like it to be as of yet, but people demanding change & not buying from Tyson, Smithfield & these other companies have made a small dent! We teach our children to do the same & continue to vote with our wallets 3 times a day, every meal, and things will eventually change! I don’t agree with comparing whales to chickens, cows or pigs for the simple fact that we don’t need to eat the whales to live! We don’t have to go to Seaworld to appreciate their beauty & intelligence! The only thing Seaworld cares about is making money off of them while they are kept in small metal cans of confinement! I would like to know when any of these things became acceptable to the human race! Why is acceptable to cut baby pigs’ tails off with or without anesthesia? Drop kicking turkeys & using them as footballs by the workers? Keeping chickens in constant cramped, filthy & dark conditions! Feeding cows gmo corn, gmo soy & actual chicken shit? Killing tigers for aphrodisiacs? Killing elephants so some people can have something carved out of their tusk? Killing gorillas so someone can have an ashtray made out of the gorillas hand? The cutting off of giraffes tails so jewelry can be made for those waiting to buy it? The over fishing of our oceans? The coral reefs that are destroyed? The sharks being killed for shark fin soup? The plastic garbage choking our oceans & everything that lives in it? The over population of cats & dogs who are destroyed by the millions just in America alone? The list unfortunately goes on forever of what mankind continues to do to the animals on this planet! When did any of it become acceptable? So, no I am not defending any such behavior & I’m not judging any one country! I’m judging all of us, myself included! And stop taking people’s words out of context. It serves no purpose & makes you look like a politician! -peace truth liberty unity-

  • hudsonstewart

    Get my facts straight? Sorry, that’s not an argument. You have to say what facts I got wrong first. Nobody in the comments section here has posted a logical argument stating why it’s OK to abuse certain animals but not others.

    Minke whales will not go extinct from whaling. They are reproducing at a higher rate than they are being killed. They are a species “of least concern”, meaning they are as plentiful as could be. They are as different from elephants as could be.

    It’s easy to ignore the injustices you commit when you consume factory farmed meat, but it’s so easy to criticize others, isn’t it?

    Here, no need to respond. I will write your response for you:

    “Yes, but… beef tastes so good!! And think of the poor whales! They must be so sad to be killed like that. Cows don’t really feel anything, do they? They’re just stupid and stand around all day chewing grass. Whales are on a higher plane of existence!! They communicate!!!! Did I mention beef tastes good?”

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny how many people here are so against whaling yet are just fine with killing and eating other animals. As one other poster said, the species of whale that Japan hunts, Minke whales, are in no danger of becoming extinct at the rate in which they are killed.

    Are Westerners just so fond of their whale watching pastime that they become over-emotional and start fighting these issues without any common sense?

    On a another note, most regular Japanese people don’t even consume whale or support this ‘industry’ so the hate for Japan that many of the more ignorant anti-whale protesters display is pretty unfounded and unfair.