Japan Really, Really loves killing whales

Japan Really, Really loves killing whales

At least that's the impression one gets after reading about the extent to which Japan is going in order to secure votes at the IWC on its behalf to continue its barbaric practice of whaling, or “scientific research”, as they like to call it. Except this time Japan is being a bit more blatant about their motives. Japan is attempting to break a 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling and they are aggressively targeting smaller nations on the IWC to side with them by offering “aid” to countries who have seen their local economies suffer. Last week The Sunday Times broke the story that Japan has been bribing small impoverished nations like the Republic of Guinea for support on a proposal which would allow the killing of 1,800 whales per year, including two endangered species, fin and sei. Japan needs 75% of the votes, and may already count with the backing of 38 of the 88 nations in IWC.

“To find out about the secret deals which patch together Japan’s alliance of African, Asian, Pacific and Caribbean states, The Sunday Times approached the key ministers and fisheries officials from those countries in an undercover investigation. Two reporters posed as lobbyists who had been hired by Dr Hans Kruber, a fictional Swiss billionaire philanthropist who had created the European development fund for fisheries.

Our proposal was designed to mirror the alleged tactics of the Japanese. Government officials were told we were putting together a coalition of countries who would vote against whaling. They were each offered £25m in aid over 10 years from Kruber’s fund and all they had to do was vote against the whaling quotas at the Morocco meeting.”

Not only were officials paid millions in “aid”, some have been bribed with paid vacations, spending money of up to $1,000 a day, and even with prostitutes. In other words, a lot of time, money and effort is being put into changing the world's view on commercial whaling by Japan. Whaling is that important to Japan. But why?

Many nations that support the commercial whaling industry do so under the guise that whale meat is an important part of their traditional diet, among them the Faroe Islands, Norway, Iceland, and Japan. But according to a 2008 study by the Nippon Research Center, 95% of Japanese either consume whale meat very rarely or never at all. Not only that, the dangers of eating whale meat, particularly pilot whale and dolphin, have shown to contain high levels of mercury and outweigh any benefits from eating them. So why the need for so much whale meat?

In the post-war era, when Japan fell on hard times and food became scarce whaling was re-introduced into the diet. These were very difficult times that called for extreme measures, but that is no longer the case and should not be used as an excuse anymore. Now Japan has a surplus of whale meat that is being used in school lunches, don't forget, whale meat contains high levels of mercury.

Other ridiculous excuses have been used to justify commercial whaling. One of my favorites is that the whales eat too many fish! Those greedy whales are eating all our fish! Right. The reason there are less fish in the ocean is not because whales are eating them, it is because we humans have over-fished our oceans. If anyone should be worried about the amounts of fishin the ocean, it should be the whales because we're eating their food.

One of the latest, lamest, saddest excuses I heard for whaling was that they produced too many greenhouse gases and were polluting our air. Luckily, this "theory" about whales and the air has been debunked by Australian scientists who have proven the opposite.

So again, why is Japan obssesed with commercial whaling and whale meat? I really do wonder if it is because they truly love killing whales. Or is it just because they can? One has to wonder.