Japan’s Whaling Policy Under Scrutiny

Commercial Fishing Hyped as “Scientific Research”: Hogwash

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Japanese whalers pull in a catch
Japanese whalers pull in a catch
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This article was updated on 06/12/21.

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The Japanese are known for all manner of odd things — quirky cartoons, kinky schoolgirl fetishes, and more. But by far the most odious is their continuing tradition of slaughtering whales. Certainly, the Japanese consume their fair share of seafood, but their whale meat consumption is significantly down in the aftermath of WWII so it hardly justifies their current hunting tradition. Then why?

What is the Japanese Fascination with Slaughtering Whales?

So why do they do it? Japan has set its 2021 catch limit for large whales at 383, the same as last year, in line with calculations to avoid a negative impact on cetacean resources, according to the Fisheries Agency. Note the use of the specifier “large.” This catch is not for the meat and it is probably not for perfume (ambergris is produced by sperm whales and valued as an ingredient for women’s perfume for some reason).

No, the Japanese Fisheries Agency says the annual slaughter is really, “research for the purpose of studying the ecological system in the Antarctic Sea.”

Wow, didn’t see that coming. But then hey! I’m not a highly-paid Japanese press agent, right? This takes fake news to a whole new level.

According to Yahoo News,  “Under the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to which Japan is a signatory, there has been a moratorium on hunting whales since 1986. Tokyo exploits a loophole allowing whales to be killed for ‘scientific research’ and claims it is trying to prove the population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting.”

Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like crappola in all its glorious splendor. Harvard International Review says, “whale meat from such “scientific” expeditions has been sold commercially, a practice that has regularly generated controversy for the country. In fact, the Japanese government began to subsidize its whaling industry during the years of its “scientific research”, and as a result of government purchasing, public schools have even served whale meat from these expeditions in lunches.”

The History and Future of Whales Slaughtered by Japan

The Japan Whaling Association is said to have begun around the 12th century. However, Japanese whaling as carried out on an industrial scale began in the 1890s when Japan started to participate in the modern whaling industry, at that time an industry in which many countries participated. Japanese whaling activities historically have extended far beyond Japanese territorial waters and even into whale sanctuaries protected by other countries. So nothing about their behavior is benign or even scientific and it is not in the realm of national sovereignty, it’s an international issue.

They also go so far as to claim that opposing their practices has nothing to do with being green. Ironically, they call their activities “capture surveys.”

Today, Japan is on board with Norway’s arguments on its own whaling activities. The thin argument is that it’s entitled to continue whaling because of the place whaling holds in its cultural heritage, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The whale meat from these hunts is consistently sold in shops and restaurants, which negates the “scientific” justification. To take the charade further, it is showcased at an annual food festival that, in some cases, features the butchering of a whale for onlookers.

As far as the future is concerned, Japan claims that as it is simply conducting ongoing research on whale maturation. It affirms that in the absence of “verified” non-lethal sampling methods, whales will continue to be slaughtered until the feasibility of non-lethal techniques is established. It seems that the motto of the Japanese whale slaughtering industry is, “We must eliminate them to find out how to conserve them.” That sounds like Nancy Pelosi, also a windbag.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

6 Replies to “Japan’s Whaling Policy Under Scrutiny”

  1. Seems to me the Japanese have Captain Ahab complexes. “Call me Yakamoto. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no Yen in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and slaughter me some whales.”

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