Over the years I could never figure out why Japan insists on continuing to hunt for whales which are an endangered species. Whale meat isn’t depended on to feed Japan’s population. Japan instead prefers to snub its nose at the rest of the world by refusing to stop whaling. The reason given for Japan’s continued whaling by those in the industry, is because “it is a deep part of Japan’s cultural heritage”. Hunt a species to extinction to maintain cultural heritage? Then over the years I started looking at what specific harbors in Japan are involved in whaling. These ports turn out to be Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture (annual dolphin blood ritual), Chiba Prefecture and in Ishinomaki in northern Japan. These ports continue to send ships out for coastal whaling. A custom that has been continued for centuries. Coastal whaling is part of Japanese culture, yes, similar to coastal whaling in Norway, Iceland and the Inuit of northern Canada, however, Japan is the only country that continues to put a fleet of ships half way across the globe to hunt whales including in the Antarctic. Japan also maintains large factory ships that can process hundreds of whales at sea. These fleets of whaling ships including factory ships reaching to the Antarctic have nothing to do with maintaining Japanese culture or coastal whaling. So what is going on here?
Because of international pressure, the Japanese pulled a fast one and tried making the claim that whale hunting was being done for “research purposes.” The International Court of Justice (ICJ) pretty much destroyed that flimsy argument. In 2014, the ICJ ruled that there was “no scientific case for Japan to continue its program of ‘lethal research’ in the Southern Ocean and in the Antarctic”, and ordered Tokyo to stop. After the ICJ decision, Japan stopped whaling for about a year, but then relaunched a fleet the end of December, 2015 to prowl the oceans claiming the whaling meets ICJ demands. So like wtf Japan? Harpooning whales on an industrial conveyor scale dragging them out of the ocean is for science? Where is the scientific data being collected? Some of the whaling ships have “RESEARCH” stenciled on the sides to camouflage the ships real intent which is whale hunting.
Just like every other assault on the environment these days, by applying a little economic forensics including to Japan’s whaling, the problem can be traced back to governments, budgets, jobs, employment, pensions, bureaucracies and plans. As it turns out, the constituents in Japan’s whaling ports have close ties to MPs in Japan’s government where these MPs promise not to end whaling. This in turn keeps these MPs in political office with their salaries and perks, their constituents in the business of whaling employed, while whales in the Antarctic are feeling the brutal effects of business as usual way back in Japan. A few local politicians at one of these ports held a rally to encourage Japanese people to eat more whale meat. They had banners printed and whore green jackets turning the rally into a festival encouraging Japanese people to even make curry rice with whale meat. So what’s it going to take Japan? Nobody here eats whale meat anymore. The Japanese aren’t dependent on it as a food source. And the rest of world is becoming really pissed off.
[Guardian] Graphic footage of Japanese whaling released