[greenpeace, japan, whales]
At last June's International Whaling Commission's conference, the BBC
recently examined the state of commercial whaling and found that for
all of Japan's success in winning support from other countries for
its campaign to ease the restrictions on whaling - especially smaller
countries which receive Japanese aid - the Japanese people are losing
interest. Whale meat is only served in a few specialist restaurants,
and occasionally appears on supermarket shelves. Younger people
almost never eat it and the surplus is causing the price to drop
So the question remains, why does Japan exert so much diplomatic
effort on this issue?
The official line is that whaling is an integral part of Japanese
culture, a practice dating back hundreds of years, but that isn't
quite true. A few coastal communities have been hunting whales for
centuries, traditionally with hand-held harpoons. But the rest of
Japan only became familiar with eating whale during the 20th Century,
as modern ships with harpoon-guns became available.
Whale meat was especially widespread in the difficult years after the
Second World War, when it was seen as a cheap source of protein.
However, as incomes rose, people switched to imported beef, or fish
like tuna and salmon. With such an abundance of high-quality protein
available these days, few Japanese see the point in eating whale,
which doesn't taste that special.
The more likely reason for Japan's determined campaign: "If the
current ban on hunting whales is allowed to become permanent," says
Hideki Moronuki, at the Fisheries Agency, the government department
leading the campaign, "activists may direct their efforts to
restricting other types of fishing."
As for the claims of 'science and research,' the World Wildilfe Fund
has described the scientific research carried out by Japan on the
whales it kills "a sham". Adding it is possible to get information
about the whales' diet and health from skin samples, without killing
"Japan's whaling programme is about business and politics, but not
sound science," says the WWF.
Ask Gortons to stop whaling!