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As the whaling issue heats up, the focal point seems to be drifting further and further away from the ecological framework. In fact, neither the pro- nor antiwhaling camp seems to talk anymore about “endangered species.” The prowhaling group is taking advantage of the dispute as a vehicle for nationalist propaganda. Actually, threats and criticism from the West are what they hope for; provocative terms such as “barbarian,” “slaughter” and “murder” only fuel their determination.

Meanwhile, the antiwhaling side increasingly focuses on the morality of hunting whales. The established media and diplomats pretend that protecting the ecosystem is of the utmost priority, proudly using affectionate words such as “majestic noble animals” to describe their beloved creatures. This show of love, though beautiful, is hardly scientific in the way that Japan describes its operations in the Antarctic Ocean.

The problem is that while Japan could care less about the fate of the whales, cetacean lovers are losing interest in the issue of marine habitat recovery, much less sustainable whaling. If this unscientific, emotional and off-the-mark battle continues, both sides will lose what they initially tried to protect: whales and whaling. It’s time to get back to the science.

kazuhisa nakatani

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