• Naha City, Okinawa


An April 1, 2007, New York Times editorial took up Japanese whaling, faulting Japan on its obsession with the practice. Japanese tourists, however, don’t have to go to Hawaii to watch “these wonderful, sociable mammals” breed and breathe in coastal waters. Whales are coming back to the Japanese coast as well.

However, I cannot help but remind that paper’s editors of how much the 19th-century United States wreaked havoc with the cetaceans. U.S. whaling ships hunted the world over for whales solely for their oil to light street lamps in cities. An accidental byproduct of commercial whaling by the United States was to force a reclusive Japan to open its doors to ensure rest and supplies for American whalers.

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