Scientific Slaughter – Japan and the Whales

Whale Meat Shop at Tsukiji MarketsJapan has been hunting and eating whales for centuries. And continues to do so today. Despite the political guise of whaling for scientific purposes, much of the blood red whale meat ends up in Japan’s fish markets and supermarkets for public consumption. Is Japan justified in whale hunting and being unfairly attacked by crackpot greenies, or are they really as cruel and inhumane as the Western news reports make out? Whichever side you are on, the fact remains that Japan’s “bi-product” of its scientific research program ends up on the plates of Japanese consumers, and is still an extremely lucrative market. We at stippy.com went to Tsukiji Fish Markets in Tokyo to get graphic evidence of whale on sale. The shopkeeper was even kind enough to point out which whale he was researching on his “Whales of the World” poster (Click on image to see an enlarged version). The Catch of the Day was Fin Whale on that particular day. Without siding with either the greenies or the Japanese, let us introduce you to the background of this issue, with some real facts. You decide for yourself which side of the fence you are on, and if you feel like letting us know, leave a comment at the bottom of the article.

Whaling Cultures in Japan and the West:
Japan’s recorded history of whale hunting goes back to the Jomon Era (縄文時代, from around 10,000 BC to 300 BC), with archaeologists having found hand spears etc from this time. However according to historians, whaling on an organized scale began in Japan in the early 1600’s. The traditional name for “whale” was “isana” (勇魚), meaning brave fish. Whale meat was a delicacy served at special occasions and festivals.

During the same period, whaling was becoming popular in Western Europe, especially in England where whale fat was burned to fuel street lights, and whale oil was used in Rolls Royce gearboxes. This created an increased demand for whales, and hunting on a global scale began during this period. (Think “Moby Dick”, the 1851 tale of the heroic Englishman captain who leads his crew on the hunt for the mighty whale.) In fact one of the objectives of early migrants from England to New Zealand and the Pacific was to search for new whale resources to sell back into Europe.

Following the invention of the light bulb (replacing the street light), efforts in whaling dropped somewhat in the West, which never had a culinary whale culture. Although it continued in other countries including Japan, and the 200 years from 1770-1970 became retrospectively known as the Era of Excessive Fishing (乱獲時代), or the Whaling Olympics (鯨オリンピック). It was during this period that Blue Whales (シロナガスクジラ) and Southern Right Whales (セミクジラ) were fished to dangerously low levels, which sparked the cultural clash between Japan and the West that began in the 1970’s and continues to today.

The Save the Whales Movement of the 1970’s:
humanwhales.jpgEnter US popular culture and Christian righteousness in the form of Olivia Newton-John and the 1970’s “Save The Whales” campaign. This was perhaps Greenpeace’s most successful campaign, and is rightly credited with aiding the ailing Southern Right Whale population back to sustainable levels. Greenpeace made extensive use of new media, such as television, and Hollywood stars to gain support for their movement. Unfortunately, while they could have stuck with the facts such as “some species of whales are on the brink of extinction!” and been just as successful, they also took a populist angle stating that “whales are intelligent animals, and should not be killed!” This took strong hold in especially the US which did not have a whaling history, and the image of a whale became synonymous with saving endangered animals. And although the populations of endangered whale have been greatly restored, this image continues in the West today, and is center of the commercial whaling battle being fought through the International Whaling Commission.

The International Whaling Commission:
The IWC (国際捕鯨委員会) was founded in 1946 under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (国際捕鯨取締条約) to regulate, in a commercial context, whaling and whale populations by preventing over-fishing of whales. It was initially signed by 15 counties, and Japan was not involved (we suspect it had more serious matters to deal with in 1946.) This body effectively watches over commercial whaling to ensure the sustainability of whale stockpiles. It was not founded on the presences of conservation.

In the 1960’s, countries such as England and Holland which had been strong whalers, finding decreasing returns from commercial whaling, gave up the industry completely, and started putting more efforts into conservation. The number of countries pushing for a complete ban on commercial whaling grew dramatically during the 1970’s partly thanks to Greenpeace and the Save the Whales effort.
In 1982, the IWC determined that there was not sufficient scientific data on the population numbers and environmental conditions of various whale species, and in a majority vote, voted in favour of a commercial whaling moratorium, banning the commercial hunting of whales. This was implemented in 1986, and still stands today.

(There are over 70 species of whales in the world. However, the IWC only watches over 12 species. These IWC whales (as they are called) are Minke, Blue, Fin, Sei, Bryde’s and Humpback which are baleen whales, the Sperm and Bottenosed which are toothed whales, as well as the Beluga, Narwhale, Baird’s beak and Pilot whales which are in fact dolphins (or from the Delphinapterus family.)

Scientific Whaling:
The 1982 moratorium caused outrage in traditional whaling countries such as Japan, Norway and Iceland, who have never really agreed with this and have all looked to exploit loopholes. Specifically, the ICRW states that “contracting Governments may grant to any of its nationals a special permit authorizing that national to kill, take and treat whales for purposes of scientific research”. From 1982, Japan and Norway halted their commercial whaling and began killing whales under the provision for scientific whaling.

Since 1994 however, Norway has abandoned the claim of “science” and has openly called its whaling “commercial”, which the country is allowed to do because it filed an official objection when the moratorium was first put in place.

lunch.gifJapan however did not do so, and has taken a more condescending stance towards the moratorium, and continued to fish under the name of scientific research, officially to obtain data on population numbers, age and sex makeup, and natural death rates. Japan states that the quality of its research research results are thought of as high quality. And the logic behind the meat being sold in the consumer market is the whale meat not used in research should not be wasted, and is sold to prevent waste, as well as to fund further research. In other countries carrying out scientific research, this meat is thrown out. (A kilo of whale meat costs about 2500 yen wholesale, with the choicest cut, part of the tail, costing three times as much. By the time it reaches supermarket shelves, the price can have risen ten-fold.)

Numbers and Statistics – The Facts:
The table below shows the estimated whale populations from the IWC.

Type Ocean Numbers
Minke Whale Southern Hemisphere 761,000
North West Pacific and Okhotsk Sea 25,000
North Atlantic 174,000
Bowhead Whale Bering-Chukchi- Beaufort Seas 10,500
Fin Whale North Atlantic 30,000
Humpback Whale Western North Atlantic 11,570
Blue Whale Southern Hemisphere 1,700
Pilot Whale Central & Eastern North Atlantic 78,000

Source: International Whaling Commission Official Homepage
Additional, estimate populations include:

  • Sperm Whales – from 200,000 to 2.2 million,
  • Bryde’s Whales – in the hundreds of thousands, and
  • Sei Whales – approx. 54,000.

So with that in mind, exactly how many whales is Japan hunting each year?
Since 1987, under the name of scientific research, the IWC has allowed Japan to fish 6065 tonnes of only Minke whales (thats about 400 actual whales). And since 2001, Japan has applied to increase this to include another 100 Minkes in the North Atlantic, 50 Bryde’s, 10 Sperm whales, and 39 Sei whales. That’s all folks.

So why the Big Problem?
gp2.jpgWith such a raging debate over such small number of whales, it appears to have developed into a cultural clash. Greenpeace has stooped to doing reckless things, such as when Japanese whalers have harpooned a whale, attaching its own dinghy in protest around the rope and whale being pulled up, somehow expecting the whaling boat to stop hauling it in. This has already resulted in damage and injuries for boats and people on both sides. Even if whales are that intelligent, how many whale lives is a human life worth?
This shows how rational thought in this conflict has been replaced by raw emotion.

This video shows an actual high seas collision that occurred in the Southern Ocean between a Japanese whaling boat, and a Greenpeace boat. It was highly publicised at the time, and the marketing power of Greenpeace had the world believing it was all the Japanese boat’s fault. I am no boat captain, but looking at this, the Greenpeace boat was in a position to prevent the accident more than the Japanese boat was:
[youtube]SjlCGR_ggbw[/youtube]

On the other hand, the Japanese side have made some childish moves. At the IWC meeting held in Shimonoseki in 2002, they had the audacity to serve up whale meat for lunch to the delegates of the participating countries, apparently in an effort to show that whale meat actually tastes good”. Here is the specific whale recipe prepared before the IWC Meeting. They have also contempt for the IWC by overtly buying votes from countries new to the Commission, such as Mongolia, one of the most landlocked countries in the world, which should need no place in the IWC at all.

Whale Take Away - Would you like lies with that?Despite all the childish games, throwing of stones, and poking with sticks; from the perspective of ensuring the sustainability of whale populations, the IWC seems in fact to be functioning adequately. The question of whether or not Japan should be allowed to sell whale meat on the market should be something that all countries sit down and discuss like adults, based on fact, not blind faith in the supposed intellect of an animal. And whether eating it is “right” or not, should then be up to whoever is sitting at the dinner table.
As long as my children and their children will be able to see and enjoy this large animal of the sea, I don’t have a problem if they enjoy whale meat with perhaps a bit of ginger, wasabi and garlic. What do you think? Please leave a comment telling us where you stand, and more importantly why?

73 thoughts on “Scientific Slaughter – Japan and the Whales”

  1. I don’t know who is the greatest spin-merchant in this debate. The Japanese Government asserting it whales for scientific purposes (killing whales to study numbers? come on!) Or Greenpeace ramming a ship, then calling it a collision. My heart lies with the whales, but then I’m not part of a culture that has a tradition of seeing them in culinary terms. And I know how cultures are misrepresented or, at least, misunderstood.

    I come from a country that is internationally slammed for culling kangaroos, the huge numbers of which have devastating effects in the outback. But who cares about that in the US where the importation of kangaroo meat is banned, based no doubt on emotive reasoning conjured by warm & fuzzy pics alongside koalas in tourism ads.

    One thing’s for sure: the whales need better PR. They don’t earn my sympathy through Greenpeace whose fundraising methods parallel their antics on the high seas. They’re aggressive and strident. Being tackled on street corners, getting knocks on the door at 8pm and fielding hard-sell telephone calls doesn’t do the whales any good at all.

  2. Good article, loooots of info. As for whale, I’m rather like to try it, just to see what all the fuss is about.

  3. It is interesting that landlocked Austria, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Switzerland and San Marino also vote with the anti-whaling coutries.

    ‘But the growing ranks of the world whaling body, which started in 1946 with 15 members and now has 70, is not due to pro-whaling nations alone.
    ‘There are more landlocked countries against whaling than in favor of whaling,” said Rune Frovik, secretary of the High North Alliance, a Norwegian pro-whaling lobby group.’

    But it also puts your landloched country in the position to be offered a juicy bribe from Japan.

  4. OK, there is something fishy going on here.

    You said in your writing:

    the IWC has allowed Japan to fish 6065 tonnes of only Minke whales (thats about 400 actual whales)

    But, the whale at the top in the photo is definately a Fin Whale (as you correctly state in your article)! So, are they allowed to take Fin Whales too or not???

  5. Thanks for the feedback and questions.

    Firstly, for whales which are not part of the above listed 12 species, as far as the IWC is concerned, they are fair game and anyone can hunt them. Not monitored by the IWC theoretically equals fair game. Although I suspect those with a green bend would still not approve.

    As far as the Fin whales are concerned, it appears there has been an update since this research was done.

    The Fin whale is one of the 12 monitored by the IWC, and thus seems that they old guy in Tsujiki market knew his whale meat:

    In 2005, Japan upgraded its whaling programme to JARPA-2. This replaced the JARPA-1 programme which took 440 Antarctic Minkes each season.

    Under JARPA-2, Japan will catch up to 935 Minke whales and 10 Fin whales during the southern hemisphere summer stating it will “…monitor the Antarctic ecosystem, model competition among whale species… elucidate temporal and spatial changes in stock structure and improve the management procedure for the Antarctic Minke whale stocks.” ( My money would be on the Japanese over the whale in any competition…)

    In June 2005, the IWC passed a resolution condemning JARPA-2, but it has no enforceable power, as any member nation is empowered to run “scientific” programmes.

    So, to update the catch list, including Greenland and St Vincent & Grenadines, who have been given special exemptions under an “aboriginal” category (not sure how that differs from Japan, with a culinary whaling history), the list is as follows:

    Current Maximum Catches:
    Norway (objection to the moratorium): 796 Minke from the north Atlantic
    Japan (scientific research): 935 Minke and 10 Fin whales from Antarctic; and 220 minke, 100 sei, 50 Bryde’s and 10 sperm from north-west Pacific
    Iceland (scientific research): 39 Minke from north Atlantic
    Greenland (aboriginal): 187 Minke and 10 Fin
    Alaska & eastern Siberia (aboriginal): 140 Grey and 67 Bowhead
    St Vincent & Grenadines (aboriginal): 4 Humpback
    (Northern Hemisphere catches cover a calendar year, and Southern Hemisphere figures span two calendar years)

    Aside for the “aboriginal” countries, Norway lodged an official objection to the moratorium, Norway quit the IWC in 1992 under protest but rejoined in 2002 with a reservation to the moratorium effectively allowing it to resume whaling. Japan however has continued to arbitrarily up its scientific quota with little respect for the IWC. And thats why its the whipping boy for international whaling.

  6. Thanks for the clarification, Gold. By the way did you buy any of that Fin Whale? Does it taste any different to Minke? Any idea how to tell the difference between one species vs. another when it is on your plate? I wonder what it is that I eat at my local izakaya?

  7. We left the Fin whale to some other keen punter that day.

    I have only had whale meat once, which was down in Wakayama (an historical whaling town within Japan), and we had Minke on an outside bbq. Was it good? Well, my impression at the time was what would happen if you soaked a slab of beef steak in seawater for 50 years, and maybe this is what you would get. Salty, to say the least.

    You likely won’t find it at the local Izakaya either. As the supply is still very low, its still a delicacy in Japan. And the custom of eating whale is not very common amongst young people these days anyhow.

    The most well-known whale restaurant is called Kujira-ya (くじら屋) in Shibuya. (Right next to Shibuya 109.)
    http://www.kujiraya.co.jp/

    Even there it will cost 4-5,000 yen for a set course menu. Or you can try Ala Carte:
    http://www.kujiraya.co.jp/dish/alacart.html

  8. I read somewhere that the Japanese whaling organization is basically a JV by a bunch of big fisheries companies making a buck.

    This is from whaling.jp:

    The Japan Whaling Association (JWA) was established in December 1959 as a nonprofit foundation. After the moratorium on commercial whaling adopted by the IWC came into effect, JWA disbanded in July 1988, and re-formed in October 1988 as a private organization with the aim of resumption of whaling.

    Fishy indeed.

  9. Thanks Gold for the updates..

    On a side note, Americans love whales more than Iraqis, but Iraqis are cleverer than whales and dolphins.. I don’t get it, why do they kill the Iraqis, and protect the whales?

  10. The ICR also released videos of the Greenpeace ramming incident (you can see them on their homepage : http://www.icrwhale.org).

    Greenpeace of course denies that they could have avoided the collision, and even claim on their website that they think that the Nisshin Maru planned the collision in advance, and had video cameras stationed ready in positions which would give the viewers the impression that the Greenpeace ship was at fault when in fact the opposite was true!!
    (Greenpeace’s words, not mine).

    I have lots more on the whaling issue at my blog (lots, I mean it)

  11. Merry Christmas everyone.

    We have had a couple of emails as to who is the organization carrying out this whaling?

    Well, the research is carried out by the Institute of Cetacean Research (日本鯨類研究所), a privately-owned, non-profit institution originally established in 1941. The institute receives its funding from whaling company Kyodo Senpaku and from government subsidies.

    Kyodo Senpaku (共同船舶株式会社)was formed in 1987 (formerly Kyodo Hogei, since 1976) and is a consolidation of earlier whaling departments of Japanese fisheries. Kyodo Senpaku is a for-profit company that conducts the collection, processing and selling wholesale of the whale specimens on behalf of the research institute. It sells roughly US$60 million worth of whale products each year.

  12. I live in Portugal, which doesn’t consume whale, but does consume loads and loads of a species that’s becoming endangered due to excessive fishing – codfish (I know whales are mammals, not fish, but bare with me).

    Portugal has had a codfish-eating cultural tradition for ages now, so, making an analogy between both situations, I have to say, it’s preferable to ban the fishing/hunting of certain species for several years until their numbers become large enough, than to continue and, in a decade or two, completely not be able to eat it at all.

    It’s a cultural thing, sure, but in both cases, the respective governments should take action and not protect whoever is selling or consuming endangered species. They should certainly not endorse it under the ‘scientific study’ excuse.

  13. Activists Target Japan’s Whalers- by throwing pies!

    ANTI-WHALING forces closing in on the Antarctic are setting up the most determined attempt yet to halt the Japanese fleet.

    The activists from the group Sea Shepherd said their two ship navy, which aims to disable the whaling vessels, would reach Antarctic waters and begin to hunt for the fleet in about a week.

    Engineers have fitted a solid steel hydraulic ram with a bulldozer-strength blade to the Sea Shepherd’s flagship, Farley Mowat, which has been stripped of its registration in Belize and could now be considered a pirate vessel under international law.

    Sea Shepherd’s president, Paul Watson, said the “can opener” was operational and far more serious than a version used last year to scrape the side of the Japanese resupply ship, Oriental Bluebird. He said its placement at deck level meant it could damage, but not endanger, the hull of another ship.

    He said Sea Shepherd had never caused human injury in its direct actions, and he hoped to inflict just enough damage to a whaling vessel to force it to return to port.

    Mr Watson said he also had a small squadron of “Japanese Zeros” – radio-controlled aircraft with two metre wingspans – to repel boarders.

    “We will then deploy our pie cannons to slime any boarding party with chocolate or cream pie filling. It sounds harmless and it is, but it is remarkable how being slimed with forty gallons [150 litres] of pie filling can deter a boarding.”

    Today Sea Shepherd unveils its new 1000 tonne ship Robert Hunter, which Mr Watson said was on course from South America and would be quick enough to match the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru.

    Greenpeace is also preparing its eighth campaign voyage south, later in the whaling season than ever before.

    ==Pie throwing eh. It just gets more ridiculous.

    Source: http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/activists-target-japans-whalers/2007/01/09/1168104983600.html

  14. killing dolphins is far more horrible. especially the completely horrid way they kill them. and i don’t think anyone can deny the intelligence of dolphins

  15. New Zealand Helps Ill Japanese Whaler

    A gravely ill Japanese whaler is receiving treatment in Wellington after days of diplomatic wrangling that ended in a top secret rescue mission.

    The man is part of the whaling fleet that the air force caught on tape 10 days ago harpooning and processing whales in the Ross Sea.

    The decision to allow the whaler medical aid followed the Government sending a barbed message to Japan for its scientific whaling programme by releasing the footage and asking the world whether the killing of the whales was science or butchery…

    …He stressed yesterday that New Zealand’s staunch opposition to whaling was unchanged and the Government would continue to put diplomatic pressure on Tokyo.

    “We have helped in this case because that is the Kiwi way,” he said.

    Full article here:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/3951000a10.html

  16. Thank you for your article on Japanese Whaling.

    Sorry for the rambling nature of this post.

    I would like to point out that that Green Peace is only one extreme organization that opposes the killing of whales and that many who oppose whaling are not radical “greenies”. Many biologist also oppose the current killing of whales and base their opinions on science.

    For example, a recent study done by Stephen R. Palumbi has shown that original whale populations were far greater (ten times greater) than previously estimated (http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2003/august6/whales-86.html). This means that current populations for several whale species are far under ~50% of original population numbers – the amount posited as sustainable for resuming of whaling by the IWC. Unlike historical studies that are based on incomplete and anecdotal historical information, Palumbi’s study was a genetic one.

    Recently Japan has been planning to resume whaling of Souther Hemisphere humpbacks. Their proposed quota is 50 animals annually. If Palumbi’s study is correct, whaling of humpbacks should not resume for another 70-100 years. What we also must consider is that humpback whales, like all baleen whales, are migratory animals whose populations can be described not just by where they feed annually, but also more importantly where they calve and mate.

    The resuming of whaling of Southern Humpback whales concerns in me in particular because of the Tongan population of humpbacks. I have first hand experience of these whales, having had collected data on their behavior for an Australian biologist, while in Tonga. I have swam with them, been up close to them.

    Unlike other populations, there are only about 500 Tonga humpbacks. This is a very small population, hence one that can be adversely affected by hunting.

    Tongans hunted humpbacks up until 1979 (and this hunting was a dangerous affair done by canoe). Since that time the monarchy has banned all hunting of humpbacks and turned humpbacks into a tourist magnet. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where people can swim with humpback whales (this is all regulated of course). While in Tonga I saw evidence of Japan’s interest in Tonga. I saw signs with the Japanese flag where cisterns had been built with Japanese help. It was common knowledge that Japan was courting Tonga for its fisheries and whales. So far Tonga is not a member of the IWC and has never been a member.

    My second point I would like to make is that the question of whale intelligence and the ethics of killing whales is not a personal question, but something that we should discuss on a societal level.

    It is currently unknown how intelligent whales are. This is not because whales are boring and don’t do much. This lack of knowledge is really about logistics, it is difficult to study whales. They are underwater most of the time. But we do know a little.

    For example, cooperative feeding, and complex song of the humpback whale suggests at least some intelligence there. And noting from my personal experience, while in the water with these animals, I definitely saw a very real awareness. They would stop what they were doing, swim around me, looking at me with their eyes. They would swim very close to me, but be mindful enough to not collide with me (not hurting me). So whales could be smart, or maybe not — we don’t know.

    But maybe the question really is, do you or do you not eat/kill a smart animal? “Mirror studies” done by Marten & Psarakos and Reiss & Marino demonstrate that bottlenose dolphins have self-awareness. That is they look into a mirror and see themselves. It has been proven that the only other animals who have this ability are the great apes (chimps, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas) and that other ape, humans. It has also recently been discovered that like chimps and humans, some bottlenose dolphins use tools in the wild. A line of mostly females in Australia have learned to use sponges as a scooper tool to help them with catching prey on the sea floor.

    So are apes too smart to kill/eat? Some would definitely say yes, including me. I would consider them persons. I would also consider bottlenose dolphins to be persons. They are too smart to kill/eat. What about whales? It is unknown at the moment. But this is an important question to consider with regards to killing.

    One can make the argument that killing whales is a cultural practice. This same argument can be made for “bush-meat” — the killing and eating of apes (yes, people do that). And of course there is also experimentation on chimps…another topic.

    (And on the topic of killing dolphins, you should also look into Japanese dolphin drive fisheries.)

    So you see my bent.

    And lastly, I am always concerned about the integrity decisions when profit is to be had. The continuation of hunting whales, after nearly hunting them to extinction, requires some thought, especially when still so much is not known about them. Making money erodes integrity and hastens these decisions. Greed should not be a part of science.

    Someone made a comment about Americans killing Iraqis. I’m American…and well, here is an example of greed eroding integrity.

    Our vice president, Cheney (the brains behind the Bush administration) is a major stock-owner of Halliburton. Halliburton has made ALOT of money from this war…

  17. Plenty of minke whale for school dinners across Japan – pretty tasty too though a bit tough. The last lot came with a note from the lunch center saying, (rough translation), “Here’s whale to give you a taste of what your parents and grandparents ate”. Nostalgia, eh?

  18. More battles in the southern seas between Japanese whalers, and activists:

    Full story here:
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/whale-watch/pirate-ship-collides-with-whaler/2007/02/12/1171128867339.html

    The activist boat plan:

    He intends to take drastic action, probably in the next 24 hours, to slam his vessel into the Nisshin Maru’s slipway, preventing it from hunting more whales.
    “We would probably be stuck into them. They would have to go back to Tokyo with us sticking out of their rear end,” he said.
    “Perhaps it’s time to give these cruel whalers a steel enema they will never forget.”

  19. Breaking news in the battle of the whales:

    Japan’s main whaling boat, the Nisshin Maru, is in flames in the South Pacific ocean. Reports are saying that an explosion caused a fire on the factory floor on board the ship. One Japanese whale slaughterer, 27-year-old Kazutaka Makita is missing, and was believed to be working near where the fire started. Over 140 people aboard the ship have been evacuated.

    The deputy director at the Fisheries Agency of Japan, Hideki Moronuki has “cordially asked the Australian and New Zealand Government to extend their kindest co-operation to the vessel.”

    New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter said they would do everything it could to protect “the lives of the sailors” (and whales).

    Earlier in the week, the Japanese whale-spotting ship Kaiko Maru called for help, saying it had been in a collision with the Robert Hunter, a Sea Shepherd ship shadowing the Japanese fleet. The Kaiko Maru is one of the ships now helping the stricken Nisshin Maru. And the Robert Hunter has headed to Australia to refuel.

    I am not making this up.

  20. “Because of this emergency situation, I cordially ask the Australian government as well as the New Zealand government to extend their kindest co-operation (to help),” Mr Moronuki told ABC Radio.

    But when asked if the vessel should accept help from anti-whaling vessels, Mr Moronuki answered: “No, they are terrorists.”

    Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/3963042a10.html

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  22. qwerty, that is absolutely sick and REVOLTING what you are implying. So killing dolphins is sick because they are INTELLIGENT?? WHAT THE !:,n;µ?? There is NO difference morally between killing a bee, a worm, a rabbit or a dolphin! What you said is extremely nauseous! It is akin to the ideology of the Nazis who sent mentally retarded people in exterminaiton camps!! So I suppose that for you killing a human with an 140 IQ is a bigger crime than killing a retarded one??? What about cows?? Do they get your sympathy too?? Do you know that despite the sympathy they gather, dolphins have quite shady practices?? Males RAPE females!! I never heard that cows get raped??!! Also cows are herbivores, dolphins are not! It is completely FUCKED UP when people get all emotional about the killing and eating of dolphins, whales, cats, dogs yet don’t bat an eyelid at the treatment of herbivorous animals! Cats for example have no qualm about killing a cute little bird! While cows just eat grass! Yet people think killing the latter is normal and killing the former is morally despicable in the West!! That just makes me plain SICK!! To all you fucktards who think everyone should share Western morals about which animals should be killed or eaten, know that in India, killing and eating cows is viewed horribly!!

  23. american hypocrisy…
    The US is one of the BIG whaling nations. Yet most people think that only Japan hunts whales!! I say look at your own sh*t before you look at others!!

  24. I’ve heard this one before. Another spin is that Commodore Perry was looking for whales when he went to open up Japan.

    The obvious logical answer is that not everyone in the entire USA feels the same way about the whaling issue. The people who are against Japanese whaling are, undoubtedly, against U.S. whaling, Icelandic whaling, etc.

  25. This issue has been covered in Japan Inc’s well-known Terries Take newsletter this week.

    URL is here:
    http://www.japaninc.com/tt423

    Excerpt as follows:

    It is well known that the current taking of
    whales for “scientific purposes” is nothing but a sham, and
    that in an ironic compliance with IWNC regulations about
    not wasting resources, most of the meat taken from these
    catches winds up in supermarkets and restaurants around the
    nation.

    Now, we know of very few Japanese who actually like the
    taste of or who want to eat whale meat. It seems that of
    those who do, either they had no choice during and after
    WWII, when protein was hard to get, or they had it fed to
    them at school lunches when they were kids. Most people say
    that whale meat, which we presume depends on the cut, is
    either succulent or very oily and chewy. What we do know is
    that the schools have to turn it into hamburger and crumbed
    cutlets in order to get the kids to eat it. And, given the
    high market price, there are other much better substitutes.

    So what is going on? Why is the Ministry of Agriculture,
    Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) and its Fisheries Agency,
    so single-minded about not only increasing the hunting of
    whales but also the promotion of whale consumption in a
    modern-day Japan that doesn’t really care for it? We put
    it down to one of 3 possible things: 1) Food security,
    2) Nationalism, or 3) a bargaining chip.

    Food security. Japan has one of the lowest food
    self-sufficiencies in the OECD, just 40%, due to its lack
    of land area relative to the population. As a result,
    traditionally most food has come from the sea and this is
    reflected in the size of the fishing industry. It may well
    be that the super-conservative MAFF, emboldened now by
    the super-conservative government of Shinzo Abe, is trying
    to rebuild the nation’s ability to supply itself with a
    high-volume source of readily available meat should its
    traditional land-based international suppliers decide not
    to.

    Concern for food security implies that there may come a
    time when Japan cannot depend on the USA and Australia for
    supplies — perhaps the nationalists have some politically
    sensitive plans afoot?

    But more likely they’re just acting from experience. It is
    often said that the soybean shock enforced by Richard Nixon
    in the 1970’s traumatized Japanese bureaucrats. Whatever
    the reason, the cynical side of us leads us to think that
    food security is an excellent means of manipulating public
    opinion and looking after local vested interests at the
    same time. Foreign threats always make good paper
    tigers.

    Nationalism. In June 1979, the Japanese envoys to the IWC
    meeting in London were splashed with red paint by
    anti-whaling conservationists and this was deeply offensive
    and shocking to those involved. The incident marked the
    rise of the conservationists, specifically Greenpeace, and
    eventually led in 1986 to the IWC imposing a global
    commercial whaling ban and the establishment of a number of
    sanctuaries in the Southern Oceans. These two events led
    Japanese conservative politicians to start accusing the
    international community, and certain Western nations in
    particular, of food source “imperialism”.

    The rest is here:
    http://www.japaninc.com/tt423

  26. For an overview of the issue, you sure make some serious mistakes. The United States is described as not having a whaling history, and Captain Ahab of Moby Dick is called an Englishman. Bzzt! Wrong – the Pequod sailed from NEW England, not England. America has a serious whaling history, if shorter than other nations.

    There are no words to lambaste the author’s final statement: “As long as my children and their children will be able to see and enjoy this large animal of the sea, I don’t have a problem if they enjoy whale meat”. Stupid – if they’re all eaten, how is anyone going to enjoy them? Are you really happy showing your kids captive animals in zoos, knowing they’re the only ones left on the planet because of stupidity and greed?

    There are plenty of non-intelligent animals on the planet to eat. Most of the dumber ones domesticate well. We don’t NEED to hunt whales for any purpose anymore. Time for it all to stop.

  27. that’s gay man why people kill the whale man i don’t like it we don’t need to kill the whale

  28. Author:
    “As long as my children and their children will be able to see and enjoy this large animal of the sea, I don’t have a problem if they enjoy whale meat”.

    TikiMon:
    “Stupid – if they’re all eaten, how is anyone going to enjoy them?”

    Umm….TikiMon….isn’t the author saying pretty much just that? i.e. that hunting them to extinction would be a huge loss to future generations?

    I can’t find anything in the authors’ article suggesting that it is OK to eat ALL of the whales. Maybe you shouldn’t label other people’s comments as stupid until you reread your own?

  29. The more I think about it, the stranger this whole argument sounds to me. Let’s think about Oil. It is a scarce resource. The world does not want oil to run out on us (we would be in trouble). What are we doing about it? We’re leaving it up to the market economy. Without interfeering in the market (as we all learn in Economics 101) a price is decided by demand and supply that will allow our reserves to last forever. Why can’t we do the same with Whales? If we freed up the market, prices would go up (just like my petrol) and so people would stop buying it. Simple as that.

  30. Hills-zoku,

    Interesting point. I can see where you are coming from, but there is another concept in Economics called “Externalities” (maybe from Economics 102 !?!)

    I was going to dust off the old textbooks but insted, here’s a bit I stole from Wiki:

    “An externality occurs when a decision causes costs or benefits to third parties (stakeholders), often, though not necessarily, from the use of a public good (for example, production which causes pollution may impose costs on others, making use of the public good air). In other words, the participants do not bear all of the costs or reap all of the gains from the transaction. As a result, in a competitive market too much or too little of the good may be produced and consumed from the point of view of society”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality

    OK – oil and whales are both scarce resources, but comparing oil and whales might not be the best example because oil isn’t really a public good (in the sense that it exists on privately owned land and I couldn’t just go out and start drilling for it if I wanted to).

    Whales on the other hand tend to ignore borders 🙂 I could buy a boat tomorrow and go whaling if I wanted to (OK, not quite true, but almost). In a free market, the incentive would be to get out there and get your whales before everyone else (and damn those bothersome greenies!)

    If you have oil on your land then there is no concern that someone else is going to get in there and take it. That is the fundamental difference – you control the supply of your oil, but you don’t control the supply of whales (because everybody owns them). I think the statement above sums it up well: “the participants do not bear all of the costs”.

    So … a free market for whales? My prediction would be than everyone would buy a harpoon, supply would increase, and prices would fall to the point where they just cover the whaler’s costs and required profit (although no participants would be able to earn extra-ordinary profits – Economics 103!)

    Oh yes, and the whales would be well and truely up $hit creek.

    Here ends the lecture 🙂

  31. Just reread my post and thought I should tsukomu myself before somebody else did.

    I said: “If you have oil on your land then there is no concern that someone else is going to get in there and take it.”

    This of course may not be true if you are a dictator in the middle east.

    Now where were we…ah yes, whales…

  32. thats really good info i have to do a project on whaling due in 1 day which i started now it was really helpfull and i love whales cuz i get called a whale

    SAVE THE WHALES!

  33. Your article failed to ask all the important questions and managed to take a relatively simple issue and complicate it by focusing on radical special interest groups which (while very ostentatious and hard to ignore) do not represent the level headed objection to whaling.

    Suggestion:
    Don’t limit your research to what is given you by the Japanese government. Look at some of the independent research which suggests that the whale hitting the streets is not what it is claimed to be. DNA testing is showing that more endangered species are being passed off as ‘legal’ ones.

    If you have caught the government in lies and misrepresentation about the the nature of their scientific research, perhaps it might make you look a little less naive if you don’t pass it off as a stubborn cultural reaction. Do you really believe this.

    Now, I am not one that likes fuzzy animals so much I won’t eat them if given the chance. I’ll try anything. Anything that isn’t protected. And that’s the beginning and end of the conversation. If it’s pretected, then why not stop. Period. No one needs it to survive, and the changes caused by special population shifts and extinctions can have severe consequences. I’m not a harbinger of doom here, just rational. No one needs it, it might hurt us to overharvest, the harvestors are obviously not forthcoming about the reality of the numbers and types they are harvesting, and they are not willing to fit with international policies. So stop eating, they can’t sell, and we all move on. Idealistic and perhaps unrealistic? Sure. But you’ll never beat the logic. And logic is what your article should be about.

    As an aside, I realize this is purely anecdotal, but I was recently sent a video a (former) friend of my shot for Japanese TV (Fuji TV, I think). He went on a quest to Vietnam to find a certain kind of tiny deer that is meant to be a delicacy. About 3/4 of the way into the show, he is told that the deer is protected by the government and can’t be bought or sold. So what does he do? He finds it on the black market and eats it anyway. Happy ending as our hero dines on the food and tells us it tastes like chicken.

    I’m not going to cry or hug a deer or piss and moan. But I am going to reiterate: that was a protected species, and this show was presented as a happy fun travel story on national TV. Put that into a cultural perspective when considering the whaling issue.

  34. This is totally misunderstood. Whales are not eaten as delicacy. I grew up eating whales. It was cheaper than beef or pork, so we had whale cutlet instead of pork cutlet all the time. There were whale bacon my father liked, too. He is from a poor village from Hokkaido. Don’t forget poor Japanese culture is so different from rich Japanse culture.

    It’s like Inuit people eat seals. Japanese is surely considered ‘Asians’ but before Asians came to the islands, the local people were purely islanders. Remeber those who have more aboriginal traits than asian traits are always discriminated amongst Japanese by ruling class who are more asian.

    The government has to lie because they don’t accept the fact many of us have aboriginal traits as well and therefore they can’t come up with a better way to preserve the aboriginal culture without making whales extinct.

    Whales had been being eaten by the people in the fishermans village for thousands of years even before Japan was formed. There are two sides of Japanese people: Asians and aboriginal islanders. For a long period of time, those who hunt any animals were considered outcast from common Buddhist belief. Aboriginal peole used to eat bears, whales, salmons,etc and many of us in the easern half of Japan have a lot of aboriginal characteristics.

    Not too many Japanese people like eating whales because they are more Asians. For the same reason, this practice is being critisized with bias views by some westerners, Ainu people and other group of people who have different food culture have been being discriminated by Japanese being labeled ‘babarians’ as well.

    Japan is islands before it’s Asia. I’m from near the poor fisherman village in Japan. though I understand we should not exterminate any species on the earth. It’s just the bad combination of the aboriginal culture and Japanese imperialistic way.

    You can’t seperate hunting whales and local culture. No way. It’s really like seperating American culture from eating cows. It’s not ‘Japanese’ thing, though. It’s just aboriginal part of Japan. Again I really grew up eating whales. We weren’t rich. We lived in a barrack that was built duing WWII(it was already 70’s).

  35. Thank you for writing an impartial and enlightening article. The Asian in me sides with whaling in the context that it is not excessive and wasteful. I wish, rather wonder, if many of these activists are knowledgeable of Asian culture and its relationship with animals as a source of food, medicine, and trade. If anyone of them eats any type of living organism, I say they are hypocrites! Living in the United States has its benefits. Modern conveniences make eating a clean, fast, and almost thoughtless process. Now imagine being in a less modernized country where refrigeration is a luxury that few have. This forces the people to hunt, butcher, or at least shop for their food on a daily basis. That in itself creates a unique relation between man and animal. Not many westerners I know could probably stand the sight of a cow being slaughtered or a chicken being decapitated, and then later eat it as a finished product. If these activists really value all that are living, they will need to broaden scope of animals to protect, for we Asians have a wide ranging taste palette, which include, dog, fertilized duck embryo, monkey, snake, and not to mention the testicles of any beast.

    On the other hand, I also feel that I have a “Green” side. I believe in alternate energy sources, recycling, and conservation. I do appreciate that there is a governing body that tracks whale population and would hopefully keep fisherman from depleting a valuable resource. I also hate when fisherman knowingly kill other species when fishing for a prize catch.

    I really wish I had more to say in favor of Greenpeace just so that my opinion would not appear lopsided. In the end, we have to agree to be different. I do not feel we can cross an international border, east or west, and criticize another culture’s…..culture. Hence the term “Culture Shock”.

  36. I wanted to say in Japan, thorught the history, the Islanders influence was very trivialized. They alwasy see Japanese=100% Asians. Upperclass, yes. If you really belive Japanese is just Asians, they probably only been to places the government recommended to see.

    Go to villages. Don’t scare them, though. If you see darker ones (not only from sun-tan) who live totally differently from Japanese Image many westerners got, they mostlikely have more Aboriginis than Asians. If they didn’t assimilate, they were forced to live in slums and registered as ‘outcasts’ They only were allowed to do things main-stream Japanese didn’t want to do from the Buddhist belief’ like slaughtering, fishing, hunting, excutions, arresting people, cleaning deadbodies, butchers, leather crafts, dealing with mercury. And once they look ugly from sickness from the working environemnts, they even lowered the rank within the outcase to ‘the Filthy’ to ‘non-human’

    Every year, our brother dies on the Street of Tokyo doing construction job, because they are from the north and they are not used to hot weather or the urban life, but they don’t have any choice because their land in the birthplace is also completely occupied by Japanese throughout Japan (in the north Russians, too)

    I don’t have anything against a asian person, but we have to re-think about Japan. is it Asian nation? Yes and no. Might sound irrelevant to the subject, but it’s the fundamental problem of this issue. Asian way+Islander culture = not really good combination when it comes to stuff like that.

    I should’ve said Islanders do not systematically hunt or fish like Japanese governement let their fisherman’s associasions do.

    I assert that I do not try to whale spending a lot of money. I were eating it because before the ban, that was the only meat we were able to afford. Now it’s ridicilous they tell people lie that they catch them for investigations.. It’s just that some folks can’t forget what they grew up with even if they can afford beef now.

    If many Japanese people are eating it just for delicacy now, which I doubt because general reaction when you say ‘I wanna eat whale’ will be ‘that’s cruel I used to go to seaworld when I was a little’ or ‘eeewwww how can you eat that?’ in most of the regions.

    You know the most greenest things. Some of us die altogether. Don’t let them choose who goes and who stays, though.

  37. Intresting article. Well, I think that any activist who eats meat themselves is a hypocrite. Anyone who says that whaling in Japan etc is wrong, but who would go home themselves and have a beef dinner, is simply a hypocrite. It’s about time that we appriciated other peoples cultures. Is it fair that we try and tell the Japanese what they can and can’t do? Well, I doubt we would like it if they started telling us in the west what to eat. Lets face it, it’s part of their culture, and is something that we should accept.

    But about actual whale hunting. I think that it’s alright, as long as numbers don’t drop to danger levels. It’s either we save whales and people die of starvation, or we allow whale hunting to continue and keep the traditon alive.

    Intresting read and comments. =)

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