The Greater East Asia whaling co-prosperity sphere
First, the Chinese, now the whales
The forces that drive Japanese whaling
As the International Whaling Commission prepares for its annual meeting on Friday, the BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says that for Japan, the whaling debate is more about culture than science.
Japan's government says its whaling fleet culled 863 whales last winter. The justification was science.
Japan says it needs to collect data about whales - what are they eating? How old are they?
Its government says it needs to kill the whales in order to examine them closely and ensure the data is accurate.
Masayuki Komatsu is the executive director of the government-funded Marine Fisheries Research and Development Department.
Like many supporters of whaling he gives two main reasons for the cull.
"Whale is abundant," he says. "The number of fish is falling while the number of whales is rising. Surely the rapid increase in the whale population influences the level of the fish stocks? We need to know more about it."
Secondly he cites culture and tradition. "Whaling has been conducted in Japan for more than 400 years to provide whale meat on a sustainable basis," he says.
"The Japanese people, not just in whaling towns but in Tokyo and Osaka where many consumers are based, really appreciate whale meat as part of the riches from the oceans."
Jeff Kingston, an academic who has studied the industry, is not so sure that is the case. This is "invented tradition", he believes. The support for whaling, he says, is rooted in more nationalistic traditions.
"This has become a touchstone issue for Japanese people who are sick and tired of being pushed around and told what to do by other countries like the United States," he argues.
"If the media and a few leaders tell them that whaling and eating whale meat is part of Japanese tradition and culture, people are willing to believe it."
Everything I've seen indicates Americans are more likely to eat gator than Japanese eat whale. They tried to give it to Japanese schools and the kids wanted no part of it.
So why kill the whales?
It comes from the same impulse which forgets the Japanese raped their way across Asia and why their neighbors hate them. It's a quest for power, nothing more.
posted by Steve @ 9:17:00 AM