Even though late last year and early this current year we’ve seen some pretty big scandals related to Japan’s whaling habits, they seemed to calm down after the Japanese government and the International Court of Justice reached an agreement. However, it seems like Japan is just pulling some of these stunts for attention.
The agreement stated that the Japanese whalers could bring back no more than 333 sea mammals by the end of their expedition, and that is what they did – only they went for some 200 pregnant females, drastically increasing the number of deaths in the ranks of the Antarctica minke whales.
Of course, the entire issue is very controversial, with both parties being right in what they are doing, but indeed it seems like Japan’s whaling efforts are meant to grind gears. This is because there really is no reason for the country to kill that many whales other than tradition and to get people angry.
While the International Court of Justice ruled all whaling in Antarctica illegal, they had to reach a compromise with Japan. And it seemed like 333 whales a year would be a decent number, preventing the animal ranks from dropping and still allowing the country their tradition. But the whalers weren’t satisfied with that, so they did indeed kill the allotted number, only most of the animals were pregnant.
There really isn’t any other reason for this other than pride and annoying the people that don’t agree with their practices. The reason given is for “scientific research”, but no scientific research would require 333 whales dead every year.
And all the animals are definitely not for consumption, as consumption of whale meat has dropped drastically in the country to some four or five thousand tons a year, far less than all the other types of seafood eaten, consisting of some 600 million tons.
Citizens and officials don’t even agree with the practice, with one unnamed high ranking official claiming the following:
Antarctic whaling is not part of Japanese culture. It is terrible for our international image and there is no commercial demand for the meat. I think in another 10 years there will be no deep sea whaling in Japan. […]There are some important political reasons why it is difficult to stop now.
So, the main reason seems to be political. According to California Northridge political scientist Keiko Hirata, these expeditions are overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, so if the expedition were to stop, a lot of important, powerful people would lose their jobs.
So, instead of attempting to smooth things over, these officials are instead riling up opponents left and right. The only bright side is that the minke whales that are so widely hunted by the Japanese fishermen aren’t endangered, numbering high enough to be safe, at least for now.
Image source: Wikimedia