Whaling in Japan

Discussion in 'Japanese News & Hot Topics' started by thomas, Sep 7, 2000.

  1. thomas

    thomas Unswerving cyclist
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    Since a small Japanese fishing fleet set sails in the end of July to embark on an their annual "scientific" whale hunt, emotions in the West are running high again. President Clinton and Prime Minister Blair personally called on the Japanese government to cancel those plans. Western hysteria or legitimate Japanese tradition? What are the reasons behind Western sensitivity to that issue and why are Japanese reluctant to turn their back towards a more or less insignificant industry? Join the arena and tell us what you think is behind that cultural clash.

    *Japan Whaling Association

    *Greenpeace International
     
  2. Tomoko

    Tomoko Sempai

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    I am a Japanese, but personally I can never understand Japanese adherence to whaling. In my childhood which was more than 15 years ago, pupils had to eat whale meat from time to time for school lunch. It was usually served as "whale soup" (kujira jiru). It was so fat and tasted so disgusting that all pupils includes me hated the soup. I also tried "whale steak" once at home, it was nothing delicious. Since then, I have no desire for eating whales. Whale meat and oil must have been very important in old days, but now we have other, more favorable kinds of oil and tastes of meat. I don't know if whaling still is an important Japanese tradition today, but I know that they don'tツ play an important role in our life anymore.
     
  3. thomas

    thomas Unswerving cyclist
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    Thanks for your swift reply, Tomoko! Actually, my wife related similar stories to me, she recalls her school lunches in horror. It seems that in certain areas of Japan whale meat used to be an integral part of students' diet.

    I did some online research yesterday and gathered pros and cons concerning whale hunting. Here are a few of the mutual standard accusations:

    *Japanese pro-whaling arguments:

    - Whales used to be part of Japanese diet since centuries
    - hunting them became part of Japan's history and culture
    - Japanese whale hunting was never economically motivated (unlike Western hunt for whale oil)
    - the "West" is stripping Japan of this important part of history and culture by imposing bans on commercial whaling
    - thus the West is culturally racist (see the web site of the "Japan Whaling Association" mentioned above)
    - irrational Western over-sensitivity towards whales

    *"Western" arguments contra whaling:

    - Japan stressing the fact of "scientific" whaling is hypocritical
    - Profit greed by a small, yet influential Japanese "whaling lobby"
    - Japan bluntly disregards international treaties regulating and reducing whaling by illegally fishing in protected areas such as the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
    - constant violation of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas) and CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) by Japanese fishery fleets

    For more "con" arguments refer to the homepage of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. I guess there are more interesting resources, just wanted to give a brief overview.
     
  4. larry_s

    larry_s 先輩

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    Allow me just a few remarks: whaling in japan may have some roots in some indigenous communities, but what has devastated the global marine ecosystems has been large scale fishing in whaling. The claim of viewing whaling as cultural heritage is absolutely ridiculous, since whale meat in today's Japan is considered a gourmet item and not staple food! Besides, "cultural heritage" does not give any nation the right to systematically plunder world resources to satisfy its own insatiable greed!

    Unfortunately, Japan is a major environmental violator, ignoring international treaties, as had been stated above. Whaling is just one obvious example of many. Japan has a long history of unsustainable consumption of marine resources, whether it be cetaceans or fish, or the by-catch which kills other marine life, unwanted fish species, sharks, seals, sea birds, turtles etc. I am completely unable to see ANY hysteria in protesting against such ruthless environmental ignorance!
     
  5. thomas

    thomas Unswerving cyclist
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    #5 thomas, Sep 28, 2000
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
    Thanks for your contribution, Larry. I have found an unofficial statement by the First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Washington, replying to a fax sent to the embassy. His views express more or less Japan's official standpoint. It is posted at Embassies of Japan and dated January 12, 2000.


    Dear Sir/Madam:

    Recently we received your fax regarding Japanese research on minke whales. We appreciate your interest in this issue and we are open to discussion. However, we would face certain difficulties if your opinion is based on some inaccurate information.

    Whaling is no longer an issue of species conservation as was the situation in the 1970's, when several whale species had been over-harvested and effective measures to protect the endangered species were awaited. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the mid-1970's successfully provided protection for such endangered whale species, and Japan appreciates this effort. However, since the 1980's the situation has changed as non-endangered whale species also became protected by the IWC, despite the fact that the IWC Scientific Committee had calculated that some whale species were quite abundant. Scientists also calculated that the global whale population (79 species) consumes 280-500 million metric tons of fish and crustacea every year. This amount is 3-6 times as much as the annual world fishery production, which is around 90 million metric tons. The ecological relevance of the current protection on abundant species should be reviewed under this situation.

    Please note that any form of resource use contains a certain level of cost and risk to the environment. For example, an increased production of crops could result in further reduction of natural forests. Cattle raising consumes more fossil energy than whale hunting while producing the same amount of protein. Under these circumstances, it is not productive to attack one activity by citing particular risk or cost to the environment. Rather, we should assess the wide variety of risks and costs associated with various activities, compare them each other, and choose the optimum way to balance the human activities.

    Japanese research on minke whales in the Antarctic, which was mentioned in your fax, is one of such risk assessment studies. The current population of Antarctic minke whales is estimated to be 760,000 animals. Scientists believe that this population has rapidly increased for the last half century by replacing the ecological vacuum created by the removal of larger whales (i.e., blue whales) due to rampant whaling several decades ago. The research is designed to unveil such population dynamics and ecological roles of this species. It involves an annual sampling of 440 minke whales. This is the lowest possible number of samples to derive statistically meaningful results from the research.

    I recognized that your information contains some inaccuracies on specific points of this research. The following are the correct understandings of the situation.

    - The IWC has never concluded that this research does not address any critically important research needs. This research is annually reviewed by the IWC Scientific Committee, which consists of over one hundred (100) scientists from around the world. Its report, along with the previously obtained research results, are open to the public through the IWC office.

    - The IWC has never stated that non-lethal means can replace our research. We have intensive discussions on this issue at the IWC, and Japan continuously makes an effort to develop new research measures. But non-lethal means are yet to be established for obtaining the data on whale age, maturity status, or prey-predator relationship.

    - The research activity does not violate any provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea nor those of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. No disputes have ever been brought to any international judicial forum to challenge this point.

    - The IWC established the Southern Ocean Sanctuary in 1994, but it does not apply to research activities. The IWC passes a resolution every year that requests Japan to refrain from conducting the research, but such resolutions are non-binding and are in direct conflict with the legally binding provisions of International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling which permits the research. Moreover, Japan believes that neither the Sanctuary nor the resolutions reflect the discussions of the Scientific Committee of the IWC.

    - The by-product of the research (i.e. whale meat) is sold in the market, but it does not create any profit. A non-profit research institute, which carries out this research, sells the by-product to cover a portion of its research cost. The rest of the cost is covered by government subsidy. Please note that the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling requests that by-products from research be fully utilized so far as is practicable.

    For more information, visit Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo, Japan and the IWC Office in Cambridge, UK at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/iwcoffice.

    Again, I appreciate your interest in whales and the environment. The environment is a high priority in Japan and, in fact, our government spends $800 billion annually for environmental conservation programs. This amount well exceeds those of major European countries and we are proud of our commitment. In the same token, we believe that a limited harvest of non-endangered whales can be consistent with the conservation and sustainable use of the resources on earth. We all agree that the past mismanagement of whales should not be repeated in the future and, therefore, the data from research is indispensable. If I can be of further help on this issue, do not hesitate to contact me again.

    Sincerely yours,

    Nobuyuki Yagi
    First Secretary
     
  6. Maciamo

    Maciamo Twirling dragon

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    Now, my argument against Japanese whalers ;

    1+2) Whales also used to be part of Japanese diet and culture in Northern European countries, such as in Scandinavia or UK. Iceland especially had much stronger dependance on it than Japan ever had, but still, they have given up whaling. Norway still continues but only hunt (moderately) the smallest species which is not really endangered. Japan hunts all species indifferently.

    3) Bullshit. The only reason they continue to hunt whales is economical. They sell it and make profit from it, don't they ? What else do they do ? WHALING IS ONLY ECONOMICALLY MOTIVATED IN JAPAN.

    4) It is no more part of the culture or daily life. It's like saying that we used to hunt bears in Europe. Whales, like bears, have become endangered species and that's why we have made law to ban their hunting. Notice that any kind of hunting on Japanese land is fobidden (deers, rabbit, pheasants, etc.). Why are they so stubborn and unsensitives about whales ?

    5) Japan has a huge complex of inferiority and almost always start whining like a spoiled child when they cannot do all their caprices (is that the result of having lost WWII and being babysitted by the US ?). Japanese politicians are irresponsible and selfish. They hate compromises that dimish their authority or do not profit them directly (they are just like avid bloodsuckers). That's why Japan will never be able to act as an adult in politics internationally. Everytime they can Japanese politicians find a way to go around international treaties and laws. They don't care about the reason underlying particular disposition. They just fake a polite behaviour towards other countries to get their favours ope their markets. They can't make business alone and they are very conscious of it. Maybe the only way of making them take real dispositons against whaling would be to sanction them economically. But they know no country would ever do that, "just for killing whales" (while countries like the US kill innocent people by thousands). Very cynical and opportunist reasoning indeed.

    6) Let's say whaler-killers are unusually unsentitive people, not even approved by their own kinds, ie a majority of the youth in Japan (and elderly people, like everywhere else, can't think clearly and continue to live in the past with outfashioned ideas).
     
  7. Maciamo

    Maciamo Twirling dragon

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    #7 Maciamo, Jul 22, 2002
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2015

    If all these numbers were all lies, nobody would know it. Lots of assertations stink. They are misleading and/or irrelevant. The person who wrote this seem to have acted with the least sincerity possible. How can we be sure that :

    - Whaling is no longer an issue of species conservation as was the situation in the 1970's.[i/]

    - The current population of Antarctic minke whales is estimated to be 760,000 animals.

    Estimated by a Japanese research of course ! How strange.

    - Scientists also calculated that the global whale population (79 species) consumes 280-500 million metric tons of fish and crustacea every year. This amount is 3-6 times as much as the annual world fishery production, which is around 90 million metric tons.

    - Cattle raising consumes more fossil energy than whale hunting while producing the same amount of protein.</I>

    - The environment is a high priority in Japan and, in fact, our government spends $800 billion annually for environmental conservation programs. This amount well exceeds those of major European countries and we are proud of our commitment.

    This is irrelevant. Japan's GNP (or population) is much larger than any European countries. Germany comes the closest with $1,9 trillion, against $3,15 trillion for Japan. After that France comes with $1,44 tn and UK with $1,36 tn. Even UK and France's GNP together are still lower than Japan's. So it's easy for Japan to spend more money in any fields. The percentage of GNP spent would be much more interesting to know.


    Obvious lies :

    - "The International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the mid-1970's successfully provided protection for such endangered whale species, and Japan appreciates this effort."

    Did they appreciate the IWC's measures ? They have always been radically opposed to them.

    - "The by-product of the research (i.e. whale meat) is sold in the market, but it does not create any profit."

    Depends to whom. Maybe not directly to them (researchers or government), but how could it not generate profit in some way for the people selling the meat ?
     
  8. NoWrongInWhaling

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    Some more facts need to be clarified here:

    Re the minke population estimate:

    "Estimated by a Japanese research of course ! "

    No, the population estimate is not estimated by the Japanese, the IWC scientific committee determines the estimates. These are based not only on Japanese sightings research but also the SOWER sightings program.

    "Did they appreciate the IWC's measures ? They have always been radically opposed to them."

    This is clearly not the case. If you read the IWC's founding document, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling,
    (here: http://www.iwcoffice.org/Convention.htm)
    you will see that the Convention states that the purpose of the Convention is to ensure the conservation of whale stocks while providing for the sustainable development of whaling industries where possible. This is the Japanese position. The Convention also requires that all amendments made to the IWC's schedule are based on scientific data - this is also Japan's position.

    On the other hand, can you say with a straight face that nations such as the UK, Australia, and New Zealand have any intention of abiding by the Convention? They clearly oppose all forms of whaling, regardless of whether the activity is sustainable or not. Another example where they fall short of the Convention's requirements is where it requires that all management decisions are made based on science. Those nations and others have all supported the Southern Whale Sanctuary proposal.

    This proposal is not based on science at all. All whale stocks under the IWC's jurisdiction are currently protected by the commercial whaling moratorium. No one can hunt those whales commercially. A so called sanctuary would serve no scientific purpose - the scientific functions it would serve are already served by the commercial whaling moratorium.

    Those nations are clearly opposed to whaling, and thus have no business belonging to the IWC. The IWC is a conservation body - those nations believe that whales should be 100% protected. This view is clearly incompatible with their IWC membership. They should immediately withdraw from the IWC and stop behaving like hypocrites.
     
  9. peipoh

    peipoh 後輩

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    i thought US introduces whale eating to the Japanese back in the early days after world war two to feed their people due to the widespread starvation then as whale got lots of meat...i personally never eat whale meat b4 but u know chinese like to try exotic dishes(we ended up getting SARS)...
     
  10. matshelge

    matshelge Kouhai

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    This is only because we can窶冲 hunt any more. Whale hunters (yes, whale hunters, not killers) in Norway wish for bigger quotas, but the government does not want to upset the rest of the world, and all the hunting that is done now is done for 窶徭cientific reasons窶? My uncle is one of the few whalers left in Norway, and I have the privilege to get fresh whale meat each year after the hunting season, and I can tell you that it is great meat. As long as the meat is fresh it is the beast tasting meat out there. I think it窶冱 a shame that there is a ban on trade in whale products, and I hope that this ban will be lifted, and commercial hunting could start again. For Japan, Iceland and Norway窶冱 sake.
     
  11. jaapberk

    jaapberk Registered

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    Susji

    Susji - Japanese delicacy made of the left-overs of scientific
    experiments
     
  12. Enfour

    Enfour 先輩

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    It is a difficult topic and I can see both sides to the argument.

    But what strikes me is the hypocritical finger pointing by the "west" at Japan for wanting to continue a tradition and food-source that is centuries old.

    The reason that the whale (a beautiful and majestic mammal) was close to extinction was due to the "western" commercial whaling during the industrial revolution of the 1800's.

    Personally I don't eat whale and have no desire to, but really the water is very muddy and no-body can claim to be pure.
     
  13. thomas

    thomas Unswerving cyclist
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    This has already been discussed in other threads, but whaling does not appear to be a "century-old tradition" in Japan. Large-scale commercial whaling only started after WWII. Even if it were a tradition, would that still justify "scientific butchering"?

    That's true. And now the impetus has been passed on to nations like Japan, Norway and others. Other nations' mistakes can hardly serve as valid excuse.
     
  14. Enfour

    Enfour 先輩

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    Thomas, I was not trying to discuss the merits of whaling vs non-whaling.

    I was just commenting on how history is forgotten very quickly and how blame is assigned.

    Whaling was a well establish way of life for hundreds of years before the black ships arrived in Japan.

    Personally I don't think there is a need for whaling for food or science. The "science" is all smoke and mirrors for a commercial industry. The best way to stop whaling is to make the eating of whale unpopular and thus unprofitable.. if it worked for the anti-fur lobby, then why can't it work in this case?
     
  15. thomas

    thomas Unswerving cyclist
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  16. halx

    halx 先輩

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    Stupid question: where is whale meat sold in Japan? Please don't get me wrong, I don''t want to buy. I just want to make sure that I do not inadvertently buy some.
     
  17. ben

    ben 先輩

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    I heard Whale meat is sold at Jusco, a supermarket chain (amoung other things).

    As for whaling and its pros &cons, I am somewhat opposed. I do not see a need for it, and i do not see how it benifits the society as a whole. I am also disgusted with Japan's (succsessful?) attemt to drastically limit the whales indiginous societies (like the inuit) can catch, if they were not given rights to whale too. Unlike Japan, whose society not lacking in material goods, the native peoples in the arctic have very little, and have to depend on sealing and whaling TO SURVIVE, not just turn a dollor. Nor do i believe that they doing it with technology that modern whalers have, also unlike Japan. While i am a vegetarian and do not think humanity as a whole needs meat to live (and i encourage cutting back), i do see the reality that these peoples need it to live. However, an average person in North America like myself or a Japanese person in Tokyo does not need it to survive, or even live comfortably.
    I also see the neccessity of letting older cultures survive, and i wish to study a few myself when i return to japan. I love old Japanese culture, and I am sad to see the state that it is in, and how it is viewed. So i would be hypocritical to deny whaling culture too. So i propose that Japan be allowed to whale non-threatened species on a sustainable basis (whatever that means). I have no problem with that if one condition is met;
    taht it is done in a traditional (and non-commercial) way, using old techniques and tools. This will also provide materials for other traditional crafts (like scrimshaw) to continue.
    I am also feel that if a culture or cultural practice is harming the world and other people, that it should be abandonded. i feel this way about the culture of white supremacy, the culture of agribuisness, and Japan's construction state, to name a few. There have been many cultures that have had to adapt to an ever-changing world, and if whaling gets to the point where it is continuing to cause serious damage, then i will agree with its abandoning.
    I will give you guys a rest from my ranting. Thanks
     
  18. jaapberk

    jaapberk Registered

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    Whale steak (hvalbiff) is a Norwegian delicacy made of the left-overs of Japanese scientific experiments.
     
  19. KenUmedaira

    KenUmedaira Kouhai

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    posting some thoughts and points:

    - I don't think whale tastes so good but surely it is a part of Japanese culture - not only tasting the meat, but one example is that the traditional Bunraku puppets and Karakuri-Ningyo (automata) use whale beard strings for their very important parts. Skins, teeth, bones and other stuffs are also used for many crafts, and it's said there is no waste from a whale. There were no wild animal of this size in Japan craftsman could use - horses and cattles are families to them, and they just buried when those loved animals died.

    - in Japanese supermarkets and fish stores whale meat is still sold. It is allowed to kill whales when they got into net set in shallow sea near coast. Also some small whales are still allowed to hunt.

    - one of reasons U.S. government is strongly against eating whales is their pocketbook.
    Their meat export to Japan (pork, beef and chicken) is one of their large industries, and farmers have a great influence on politicians. USMEF is a giant compared with all the other association of meat exporters. They know Japan must import meat from foreign countries and numbers of hog/cattle farmers have been decreasing in last several decades due to competition with imported meat. Surely they don't want Japan to have another source of meat at hand now.

    - To be honest, I don't see so much difference between hunting whales and hunting deers as done in many countries.....
     
  20. masaki

    masaki Registered

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    Japan is killing whales so what im sure it,s for good reason
    like food & stuff,
    besides most of their food supply comes from the ocean anyway. so why aren,t peple bickering about smallfish?
     
  21. Lance_Cadilac

    Lance_Cadilac 後輩

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    So what let the japanese have a quota say 500 whales a year as long as its controld its fine.Is killing a whale any differnt from a pig or a cow?
     
  22. KenUmedaira

    KenUmedaira Kouhai

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    Japanese government has been insisting for "controled" whaling, and I'm sure Lance or many of those who have common sense would agree to this -- but IWC has been refusing this as well. I don't get why. Many anti-whalers do not explain logically why Japan should stop whaling, neither they do tell their true intention (Of course not! They can't say at IWC conference that it's because some of them don't want their meat export to Japan decrease, or some have already bargained their votes for something from anti-whalers!!)
     
  23. earthangel

    earthangel 先輩

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    Jeesh! None of you guys have any compassion! All you think about is how whale meat tastes and whether or not one country or another should be able to kill these diminishing gentle giants. Have any of you ever seen the videos or heard a whale screaming as it is harpooned?

    Somebody has to stand up for the whales because they cannot speak English - which is what magically makes a being "intelligent" and "valuable" and have the right to live like humans do.

    Or perhaps you believe the misinterpretations of the bible that say animals were put here for us to eat and use? In fact, we have dominion over the animals but we are meant to be their caretakers. And what about the first commandment Thou shalt not kill? Not "thou shalt not kill humans". Thou shalt not kill period. Killing is the #1 sin and brings with it horrific karma - and I'm not only talking about the act of killing itself but by eating whalemeat you are creating a demand for more with each mouthful so indirectly, you are the killer of the whale too!

    One day there will not be one whale left on this Earth and people will be saying, gee what happened? We thought they would always be here. But of course it will be too late then because humanity is too selfish.
     
  24. quercus

    quercus 後輩

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    I've read the comments and I can see there are many differing opinions and various levels of commitment to either cause.
    I would object strongly to another country telling us in Australia what we should and shouldn't be doing. There would be an immediate community backlash and probably be increased support for whatever action it was that was receiving the international attention. We (the international community) need to be careful we don't invoke that sort of response from the Japanese people, because many Japanese people also support the ban on whaling, just as many people from other countries do. This isn't an issue of the rest of the world vs the Japanese, this is an issue of sustainabilty and most of all compassion. There is no humane way to kill whales. It seems as though the only people who are truly interested in continuing, increasing the whale kill are those who can make money from it.
    I wouldn't like another country telling me what I can and can't eat, but I also like to think I am compassionate and rational enough to make a humane judgement on these sorts of issues.
    I would welcome any of our Japanese friends to share their views and more importantly what we in Australia can do to help those in Japan who are currently resisting the Japanese government's current position on this issue.
     
  25. SharkLover

    SharkLover Kouhai

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