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Japan's whalers back treaty withdrawal

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By Shingo Ito

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 "I would be concerned if it were tuna or other fish," said Sadae Nakamura, a 67-year-old housewife. "I even don't know the difference between research whaling and commercial whaling. It's all politics that is beyond people like me."

Quite so, but it's people like you who should be concerned as these whalers and the government are the one's that are saying it's YOUR culture rights to eat whale that are being stepped on!

9 ( +20 / -11 )

"Those who have interest in eating whale meat are extremely limited" in Japan, said Hisayo Takada, program director at Greenpeace Japan, adding that Tokyo appears to be hitting back emotionally at foreign pressure over the practice.

Which says it all really. This and any other criticism that gets directed towards Japan for any reason, on any subject gets responded to "emotionally" . Even politicians dealing with regional issues, lash out like children or knowingly take actions that will cause more problems.

Kind of reminds me of the guy who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave!

7 ( +18 / -11 )

research whaling? what a laugh. the only thing they're researching is how much money they can make.

12 ( +29 / -17 )

"as part of efforts to keep alive the region's 400-year-old whaling history."

400 years, which proves beyond any reasonable doubt that JT "experts" were stating the truth all along.

Japanese were ordered to begin eating whale by MacArthur, straight after WWW2, 400 years ago!

Simples!

11 ( +20 / -9 )

Shoji's firm annually harpoons 26 giant beaked whales -- a type not covered by the IWC but subject to domestic Japanese quotas -- and lands them at Wada port, one of the country's five bases for coastal whaling.

The withdrawal from the IWC could be the beginning of the end of larger scale whaling.

As referred above, smaller scale commercial whaling has been legally undertaken all through the protest period (from the late 70's onward).

The withdrawal will mean that the "research " grounds for whaling will be removed and hopefully the government subsidies ( that support the larger chasing and factory vessels) too.

Therefore (again hopefully) the removal of subsidies could mean that all whaling will stand or fall based on its economic viability.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Got to get that government money while feeding a dead cultural practice under the guise of science.

-5 ( +17 / -22 )

I'm sorry, but why would anyone WANT to watch an animal get slaughtered like that?

10 ( +21 / -11 )

Unless you.re thinking that Taiwan equals China, then NO!

They are still happily munching down on Max, Buddy & Molly down there in China and Korea.

And they've got guts to talk about Japan!!!

13 ( +18 / -5 )

sensei258Today  07:28 am JST

research whaling? what a laugh. t

Chip StarToday  08:11 am JST

Got to get that government money while feeding a dead cultural practice under the guise of science.

Did you two bother to read the article? It's about commercial whaling. Not research whaling.

-1 ( +17 / -18 )

All whale meat should be tested for mercury and radiation. Anybody selling this heavily contaminated flesh should face prison, fines and their boats confiscated.

5 ( +18 / -13 )

Did you two bother to read the article? It's about commercial whaling. Not research whaling.

Did you bother to remember what allowed whaling in Japan to drag on and on? It's heavily subsidized "research" whaling. Dollars to donuts any commercial whaling will be heavily subsidized in the name of protecting a dead custom.

-3 ( +16 / -19 )

Japan vowed to forge ahead with commercial whaling of minke and other whales off its coast but said it was stopping its most provocative whaling -- annual Antarctic expeditions that used an IWC loophole permitting hunting for scientific research.

I am no fan of whaling and I have hated Japan's practice of "research" whaling around Antarctica, which was a complete sham.

However, if I look at Japan's new stance as outlined above, while I can dislike it, it may actually lead to the end of whaling in Japan.

The two keys are:

-- Whaling being an entirely commercial operation in Japan, without any subsidies from the government.

-- Whaling being limited to the coastal waters.

The problem with the "research" whaling operation, apart from the actual hunting of whales, is that it was a government-subsidized / funded operation that did not have to be profitable. And it was done in waters far away from Japan.

Whereas, if this new whaling approach is truly commercial and must survive on actual supply / demand economics, without subsidies, and is limited to whaling in Japan's coastal waters, I have to believe that, with the passage of time, whaling will disappear.

Domestic demand will continue to drop in the coming decades and, just as importantly, there will be fewer and fewer people in the whaling industry in these small towns.

Of course, the caveat being that the whaling industry finds a new source of demand, whether for non-human consumption or export related.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

It's all politics that is beyond people like me.

It's this kind of deliberate ignorance from people like you that leads to the govt. making decisions and claiming those decisions to be the will of the people. Meanwhile, the people choose to remain uninformed, and they blame the govt. for the decisions made which they don't agree with. It is shameful.

-5 ( +11 / -16 )

"It was a rare piece of provocative diplomacy by Japan, which has generally pursued an uncontroversial foreign policy since its World War II defeat."

Its referring to whaling, using explosive harpoons to rip grappling hooks into living animals !

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Chip StarToday 08:35 am JST

*Did you two bother to read the article? It's about commercial whaling. Not research whaling.*

Did you bother to remember what allowed whaling in Japan to drag on and on? It's heavily subsidized "research" whaling. Dollars to donuts any commercial whaling will be heavily subsidized in the name ofprotecting a dead custom.

Totally Irrelevant. The article is about commercial whaling. As for subsidies, while government subsidies towards domestic fishery industries is common practice in just about every country, there is nothing in the article regarding that issue so your "dollars to donuts" speculation remains just that; speculation.

0 ( +13 / -13 )

Credit to JT for one of the goriest set of pictures that I’ve ever seen on this site...

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

If as a child I had been taken to a slaughterhouse to see animals killed and cut up, I would have been horrified and upset. Maybe this pathetic attempt to influence future generations of customers will backfire and produce a generation of anti-whalers!

-2 ( +11 / -13 )

This particular town catching 30 odd whales every summer is a far cry from the southern ocean hunts with quotas of 1,000 whales. This could nearly be considered subsistence hunting for this town. I’m against all cetacean exploitation, but I can accept this particular case as cultural.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

I do not give one iota what species of whale it is.

It's aware it's being hunted down.

It's wrong to hunt down these gorgeous majestic animals down and consume them. Period.

Behaviour: 

Baird's beaked whales are an extremely long-lived species with males living longer than females. They are known to form close groups of between 5 and 20 individuals but at times have been seen in groups of up to 50 animals. Seen swimming in tight formation, surfacing, breathing and occasionally even breaching in unison, these animals are (((highly social))).

-Seems intelligent and aware to me.-

If Japan can simulate crab meat and other forms of seafood. Well then.

Whip up something for whale Jerky and whale meat for the Japanese that will not give up this nonsense.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

@agentX

And they don't mind using their children as weapons in this fight.

Previously JT reported ;" its given to school children two or three times a year"

The social licence of humanity is dropping, so we don't even want our population to rise anymore, and its behaviour like this to Whales that's helping to create this distaste, I agree with you @slickdrifter

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@Will Goode.

My child is not eating whale meat period. As long as he is living under my roof. The days the school puts it on the menu. Which they do not. He will bring a lunch I or his Mother make for him. Or some other viable option. If I have to, I will keep him out that day. I will. I respect Japanese culture and understand whaling is part of the culture here for centuries. But centuries of whaling? Over centuries?

All that speaks to me is. Centuries of totally getting it wrong Japan!

I love Japan and I love the Japanese. But on whale hunting and whale consumption. Very bitter pill for me to swallow coming from Massachusetts where whales are vehemently protected and almost worshipped.  

.

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

"I support the status quo," he added.

Japan in a nutshell

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I am against large scale commercial whaling, simply ZERO need for it, amply demonstrated by the amount of demand in Japan & elsewhere.

That said coastal whaling I am fine with, and Minamiboso DOES have a tradition, have a go at it, sink or swim on its own

Seems like demand will continue to decrease over time, THAT should be what ends up phasing whaling out, let nature take its course so to speak

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Gotta love them delicious subsidies! They more than make up for the utter lack of demand!

0 ( +7 / -7 )

There are so many other things to eat. But some people are determined to push everything in the sea into extinction. Whales, sharks, tuna, you name it.

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

Highly intelligent living creatures should best not be eaten. Whales are amazing animals.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Don’t they mean, “Japan’s scientists”? I mean, it’s always been about science, hasn’t it?

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

Anyway, no surprise they back it... gotta force something the kids don’t want on them.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

But truly the is a racialist attitude to Japan whale hunting. Norway and Iceland have always did the whale hunting. Where is the international outcrying? If White North European is it ok?

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

I'm sorry, but why would anyone WANT to watch an animal get slaughtered like that?

One, you are over exaggerating, the whale is already dead! Comments like this are just as bad as the point in the article about the Japanese reacting emotionally to the complaints from abroad.

People are not watching the whale being slaughtered, they are watching it being cut up for food. And personally speaking, whether it be a whale, (wish it wasnt) a cow, pig, chicken or whatever, I think kids SHOULD see where their yakiniku or sashimi come from.

Too many kids now a days have ZERO appreciation for life, and understanding that the taking of a life, (animal) is what sustains them!

Two; it's only the size and the species, if it were a small fish, being cut up for sashimi I'd bet you would have no problem!

It's educational, and hopefully they will learn that killing these whales is NOT the way to go!

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

In terms of politics, many members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative Liberal Democratic Party are supporters of whaling, and he himself comes from a constituency where whale hunting remains popular.

I think if anyone wants to know how this industry survives, there's the answer right there.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Angus McGillicuddyToday 02:12 pm JST

Gotta love them delicious subsidies! They more than make up for the utter lack of demand!

I think there's a big demand in the LDP for whalers' campaign fund donations and votes.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

@Ogeesan

*Norway sparks outcry by raising whaling quota* - Telegraph

*Norway boosts whaling quota despite *international opposition - Guardian

*Iceland's 'blue whale' killing sparks *international outrage - Sydney Morning Herald

*Whale hunts in the Faroes cause *global outrage - Guardian

What was your question again?

4 ( +11 / -7 )

research whaling? what a laugh. the only thing they're researching is how much money they can make.

This is the atypical response one gets from fans of a particular group, that insists no research exists and discourages their fans to look for it. But this research and links to the data and internationally published reports on this information are not only made available via the Institute of Cetacean Research web site but the International Court of Justice confirmed in their March 31st, 2014 judgement that some of this research had merit (ISSN 0074-4441/ ISBN 978-92-1-071178-4) :

"...the Court thus finds that the JARPA II activities involving the lethal sampling of whales can broadly be characterized as “scientific research”. There is no need therefore, in the context of this case, to examine generally the concept of “scientific research”. (Paragraph 127, p.45)

"The Court notes that the Parties agree that non‑lethal methods are not a feasible means to examine internal organs and stomach contents. The Court therefore considers that the evidence shows that, at least for some of the data sought by JARPA II researchers, non‑lethal methods are not feasible." (Paragraph 133. p.47)

"Turning to the reliability and value of data collected in JARPA II the Court heard conflicting evidence. For example, the experts called by Australia questioned the reliability of age data obtained from ear plugs and the scientific value of the examination of stomach contents, given pre‑existing knowledge of the diet of the target species. The expert called by Japan disputed Australia’s contentions regarding the reliability and value of data collected in JARPA II. This disagreement appears to be about a matter of scientific opinion." (Paragraph 134. p.47)

You'll notice than neither are linked from any publication, blog or site created by the group in question. This is because the group had not only lied about the above conclusions but the following as well:

" As previously indicated, the fact that a programme uses lethal methods despite the availability of non‑lethal alternatives does not mean that a special permit granted for such a programme necessarily falls outside Article VIII, paragraph 1 (see paragraph 83)." (Paragraph 137. p.47)

"...the Court sees no reason to evaluate the evidence in support of the Parties’ competing contentions about whether or not JARPA II has attributes of commercial whaling." (Paragraph 230. p.72)

" The Court sees no need to order the additional remedy requested by Australia, which would require Japan to refrain from authorizing or implementing any special permit whaling which is not for purposes of scientific research within the meaning of Article VIII. That obligation already applies to all States parties. It is to be expected that Japan will take account of the reasoning and conclusions contained in this Judgment as it evaluates the possibility of granting any future permits under Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention." (Paragraph 246. p.76)

So the research does exist and the International Court of Justice did not invalidate it as commercial or forbid Japan to engage in further activity that involved special catch permits, regardless of the repeated assertions of the defendants in Case ID 12-35266 and ICDR Case No. 50 20 1300 0952.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

There are so many other things to eat. But some people are determined to push everything in the sea into extinction. Whales, sharks, tuna, you name it.

Japan's primary target in their research was the minke whale, whose IUCN Red List status is "least concern".

Highly intelligent living creatures should best not be eaten. Whales are amazing animals.

Pigs have been deemed intelligent as well yet...

All whale meat should be tested for mercury and radiation. Anybody selling this heavily contaminated flesh should face prison, fines and their boats confiscated.

The EIA conducted testing for their "Mercury Rising" report and confirmed that low rates of contamination are found in Antarctic minke whales, well bellow the 1 ppm range found in routinely consumed fish by the FDA's "Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012)" database. And the also found low levels in Brides Whale meat taken from the North Pacific.

FYI, Antarctica's distance from industry and the Antarctica Circumpolar Current keeps most pollutants at bay.

In regards to radiation in the Pacific, in refer you to the 2016 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution study entitled "Fukushima Daiichi–Derived Radionuclides in the Ocean: Transport, Fate, and Impacts" (DOI: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010816-060733), which confirmed the levels of radiation in the pacific have dropped to levels prior to the Fukushima incident.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Japan's primary target in their research was the minke whale, whose IUCN Red List status is "least concern".

True, but they also caught and illegally sold 134 endangered Sei whales in 2017. Whaler's aren't overly concerned with theories on conservation.

The EIA conducted testing for their "Mercury Rising" report and confirmed that low rates of contamination are found in Antarctic minke whales,

in 2014 the EIA tested whale meat sold freely on Yahoo! and in supermarkets. ALL of the samples had levels of mercury above Japan's 0.4ppm level, some almost 50 times the level (although they didn't test any Minke whale). Half of the samples were also not labelled with the species, which is also illegal. Whale meat bought in Japan is not necessarily Minke whale, and it could be any number of potentially hazardous species.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

The title is so weird, “Japan's whalers back treaty withdrawal”. Why wouldn’t they back the treaty? It was designed for them. Can’t have hundreds more unemployed, demanding unemployment benefits, as well as have a new dead industry. おかしい

2 ( +2 / -0 )

SlickdrifterToday  01:57 pm JST

I love Japan and I love the Japanese. But on whale hunting and whale consumption. Very bitter pill for me to swallow coming from Massachusetts where whales are vehemently protected and almost worshipped.  

OMG...do you have any idea of the amount of "whale blood" is on the hands of Massachusetts? Ever hear of Nantucket Sleighride? Ever visit the whaling museum in Bedford?? Are you aware that Perry opened Japan up to relations with the U.S. in the 1850s to protect shipwrecked American whalers?? You really need to study the history of Massachusetts and hang your head in shame before criticizing any other country.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

OMG...do you have any idea of the amount of "whale blood" is on the hands of Massachusetts?

You're right, and you could add any number of countries to that list, including my own. But the big difference is they don't do it anymore; they don't need to hide behind 'tradition' to pursue something that is ecologically destructive and commercially unviable.

We should be thankful that there isn't a place in Japan where making asbestos is considered a tradition.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Their country, their culture, no one here has a right to judge.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

ClippetyClopFeb. 3  11:43 pm JST

OMG...do you have any idea of the amount of "whale blood" is on the hands of Massachusetts?

You're right, and you could add any number of countries to that list, including my own. But the big difference is they don't do it anymore; they don't need to hide behind 'tradition' to pursue something that is ecologically destructive and commercially unviable.

You missed the point. Whales of all species were pushed to the brink of extinction by the Western whaling nations which hunted them with no limitations on species, numbers, size age,sex and flensed onboard (just the blubber cut off) and the rest of the entire carcass pushed overboard in what has to be one of the most indiscriminate wanton waste of any animal resource ever seen. It's bad enough that many in former whaling nations are ignorant of their own past history, but it's exceptionally offensive for anyone from Massachusetts claiming some moral superiority to any nation hunting whales and actually eating them.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

See kids. Isn’t it great that the premature death of these magnificent creatures gives life to our dying town’s economy.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Their country, their culture, no one here has a right to judge.

Everyone has the right to judge, Japan has the right to ignore the judges.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Whereas, if this new whaling approach is truly commercial and must survive on actual supply / demand economics, without subsidies, and is limited to whaling in Japan's coastal waters, I have to believe that, with the passage of time, whaling will disappear.

Domestic demand will continue to drop in the coming decades and, just as importantly, there will be fewer and fewer people in the whaling industry in these small towns.

Of course, the caveat being that the whaling industry finds a new source of demand, whether for non-human consumption or export related.

Totally agree @zones2surf with your entire post especially the reason which leave IWC is good idea.

As an Australian where there have been heated discussion regarding this especially around hunting in Antarctica's international whale sanctuary for years. I welcome this decision and the implications it will have on the industry.

No one in there right minds these days wants to eat contaminated meat, except a few nostalgic old timers and locals to keep their economy going.

Banning it would be political suicide but cutting it's funding and most contraversal hunting grounds is like feeding them mercury haha.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

You missed the point.

No, I go it. Western nations were indeed responsible for emptying the oceans of whales. But when they realized this, they stopped (initially for commercial reasons I admit). The world now realizes the ecological importance of these and other animals, and no longer slaughters them to stack in freezers. Japan is hamstrung because it has made whaling a political hot potato, supported by a vocal section of right wingers with close financial links to prominent politicians. In the end it's the whales who get needlessly harpooned.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The firm allows local residents and tourists to watch whales being dismembered at its slaughterhouse

Sound like a great day out. I hope hospitals and morgues open up their autopsies to tourists next.

Rob McIntyre: The paper by T. Endo et al. ("Mercury Contamination in the Red Meat of Whales and Dolphins Marketed for Human Consumption in Japan", Environ. Sci. Technol. 37, p2681-2685, (2003)) reported on the mercury content of whale meat sold in Japanese supermarkets. It found that mercury levels in all samples exceeded the levels permitted by the Japanese government. This shows that: (a) the Japanese government deliberately and consistently fails to enforce its own food safety laws and (b) the meat from whales in the Pacific is not fit for human consumption.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

ClippetyClopToday  08:17 am JST

You missed the point.

No, I go it. 

No you still missed it. But that's to be expected when you jump in to respond to something not directed at you. Look up the history and role that Massachusetts played in American whaling. The sheer hypocrisy of the following statement is

"Very bitter pill for me to swallow coming from Massachusetts where whales are vehemently protected and almost worshipped.  "

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@Ossan

The point you are trying to make is illogical

How can they be hypocritical if they no longer hunt whales? For them to be hypocritical, they would need to venerate whales yet still be hunting them.

If my father was an alcoholic and I was to preach abstinence, would I be a hypocrite? For true hypocrisy you could look to Japan, who claim to respect these creatures yet continue to shoot harpoons into pregnant & endangered whales, jab pikes into the blowholes of dolphins and then stash the resulting meat into freezers or force feed the toxic muck to schoolkids.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Totally Irrelevant.

What is totally irrelevant? That commercial whaling wouldn't be a question if "scientific" whaling hadn't been subsidized o keep a dead custom going?

The article is about commercial whaling. As for subsidies, while government subsidies towards domestic fishery industries is common practice in just about every country,

Domestic fisheries . . . Not being debated.

there is nothing in the article regarding that issue so your "dollars to donuts" speculation remains just that; speculation.m

Of course it's speculation, hence I stated it in the form of a bet.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Two; it's only the size and the species, if it were a small fish, being cut up for sashimi I'd bet you would have no problem!

A whale is a mammal, fish are not.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

@clippetyclop

We should be thankful that there isn't a place in Japan where making asbestos is considered a tradition.

Poisoning these giant mammals with mercury is bad enough, but actually killing indiscriminate members of a large social group is barbaric, it leaves them all sad as it would for the equivalent on land, being Elephants.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

The western whaling nations that decimated all whales to the brink of extinction in the late 1800s did not stop whaling because of some epiphany that "Whales are special". They stopped whaling because the need for whale oil produced from the blubber plummeted with the discovery and shift to Petroleum as the main energy source. The realization that they had killed off so many whales is what lead to the formation of the IWC to regulate the whaling industry.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Ascissor

You find a couple story to support your ideas. You are incorrect to write international responding is the same for Norway, Iceland Faroe Islands and Japan. The portions of critical comments are much more greatly against Japan as the view is Japanese is 'other' . Whale killing, sushi, expensive, technology, fast train and many suicide- this is common image. Obvious there is critical comments of Scandinavia countries but it is small portions.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A whale is a mammal, fish are not.

The comment obviously went way over your head. Let me share it in an easier way, one, the whale was "slaughtered" well before the kids were watching it being cut up. Next it doesnt matter about whether it was a mammal or not, it's about kids needing to learn about where their food comes from. Next time if you dont get it, just ask, I will gladly explain!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

the whale was "slaughtered" well before the kids were watching it being cut up.

The kids were watching it being butchered.

 kids needing to learn about where their food comes from

Or learning that some things just aren't food. If schools took kids on trips to abattoirs there'd be a lot more vegetarians around.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The paper by T. Endo et al. ("Mercury Contamination in the Red Meat of Whales and Dolphins Marketed for Human Consumption in Japan", Environ. Sci. Technol. 37, p2681-2685, (2003)) reported on the mercury content of whale meat sold in Japanese supermarkets. It found that mercury levels in all samples exceeded the levels permitted by the Japanese government.

No, not all samples. Here is a quote from the Abstract portion of this very study:

*"On the other hand, T-Hg concentrations in all mystecete red meat samples except for one (0.01−0.54 μg/wet g, n = 62) were below the permitted level of T-Hg, probably reflecting their lower trophic levels." - DOI: 10.1021/es034055n*

You also appear to have failed to notice the levels found in fish that is routinely consumed through-out the world, that the FDA has catalogues in "Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012)".

The moderate consumption of those had been recommended, with strict guidelines for pregnant and nursing women, of course.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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