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In Japan, the business of watching whales is far larger than hunting them

42 Comments
By Elaine Lies

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Whales have an extremely slow reproduction rate and they are hunted during the calving season, which means many are pregnant or just had calves.

The reproduction rate is taken into account when setting the quota.

Furthermore, the whales being watched are the same whales that run the gauntlet through the hunting grounds. It’s impossible for the two industries to coexist.

Since the whales have been being hunted for over 30 years, while the whale watching industry was taking root. It has already been amply demonstrated that both industries CAN and DO coexist. Just like both industries have coexisted in Iceland and Norway for decades.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So all these years they had to do whaling on the sly and they just officially started whaling again...and...the relatively unregulated business of whale watching is doing better??? Color me surprised Captain Obvious!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I like to watch whales as well. I like to watch my whale burger right before I eat it.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Now this are the best type of hunter, nothing beat taking a photo.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What's wrong with preserving classical Japanese culture AND cultivating new ones at the same time?

Nothing unless the classical culture creates harmful externalities.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Ganbare Japan - If Whale watching is an industry that employs Japanese people like whale hunting, then both can exist.

Now that is what you call an oxymoron. The only way they can both exist is if people are watching whales being slaughtered. Whales have an extremely slow reproduction rate and they are hunted during the calving season, which means many are pregnant or just had calves. Furthermore, the whales being watched are the same whales that run the gauntlet through the hunting grounds. It’s impossible for the two industries to coexist.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

If whale meat actually tasted good maybe there would be a market for it; but it tastes terrible and that probably explains the low consumption rate.

Just because some people don't like the taste of a given food doesn't mean everyone agrees with them. There are many foods I don't like that other people do like and I don't use that as a reason why those foods shouldn't be allowed.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Today whales are changed from the subject of eating to that of watching. And many foreign guests have come to Japan to watch lovely whales. It's amazing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I just find it funny the article about the chef crying about how great it is Japan is resuming its "science" without the science and talking about how "lean" and "low-fat" whale meat is while in the same sentence the old codgers ordering it recall how they needed to eat, literally, blubber to sustain themselves since there was no protein after the war. Yet, you point out the obvious oxymoron to the morons and they get upset... not at how wrong they are, but how you called them out on it.

No one wants to eat whale that is not forcing themselves to do so, including governments having forced it, literally, on kids in school lunches in the past. Mercury levels be damned! Ask any kid whether they'd like to eat whale meat or a hamburger, and 100% will say the latter. The whalers will get defensive and say it's proof they need to whale, and the meat will rot in the freezers while our taxes go towards a dead industry.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Whaling is just sinister in nature. There is no reason to kill these intelligent creatures. I tried whale many years ago (I didn’t know what I was eating at the time). It tasted like bitter fat. It was disgusting.

if whale meat actually tasted good maybe there would be a market for it; but it tastes terrible and that probably explains the low consumption rate.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

No one has a right to judge what other countries eat

What was that about glass houses....

the oceans resources arent solely Japans to exploit as they choose. those glass houses your referring too are bluefin tuna , Japanese eel

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Why isn't the perspective of the financial advantage of whale WATCHING over whale (and dolphin) MURDERING on all the news channels?

It isn't as good a story I suppose. Whale watching operators have had a hard time in Japan, facing threats & intimidation from right wing groups backed by official governmental departments. Politicians here would prefer us to kill & eat cetaceans rather than just watch them. This being Japan, it's all bound up in politics, money and nationalistic pride.

Be thankful though that places such as Kushiro are thriving, whereas Taiji continues to rust and decay. Marine conservation is quite a big thing quite now, Japan might get it in a few decades.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Who cares, ultimately their country and culture, their right to eat whales if they choose. Swing there are more who watch whales than eat then us absolutely irrelevant. No one has a right to judge what other countries eat

What was that about glass houses....

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Why isn't the perspective of the financial advantage of whale WATCHING over whale (and dolphin) MURDERING on all the news channels? Why? I will tell you why. PM Shinzo Abe is from the part of Japan that benefits from slaughtering whales, the noble mammals of ocean depths. Shame shame shame on him eternal.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

It is heartening to note that watching is more than hunting whales. The Whale hunting nations should look from the global perspective, global warming direction and also learn to live in harmony with nature.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There won't be any whale left to watch if the current whaling rate continues.

The current whaling rate is lower than it was for the last 30 years. So, since there were whales to watch for the last 30 years when more were hunted, there is no reason to believe that current hunting at lower levels will have an effect.

penalizing the growing whale watching business

How is whale watching being penalized?

It's also a little disturbing that they are also hunting orcas

What? Who is hunting orcas? The article quotes one of the whale tour operators as specifically saying the don't hunt orcas.

'let the industry founder' - I guess that should be flounder

No. Founder - verb - to give way, collapse or fail

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

There you go: watch whales. Don't kill them. And don't eat them, unless you want a lot of dioxins in your body.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

i dont care about whales, but its sounds absolutely financially insane to drop 5 bil into 300 people industry with bad ( hard to cook and thaw ) product with low demand and bad publicity... sounds bloody insane more likely.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Iceland has whale watching and whale eating together, certainly no reason why Japan can’t have both too.

Seriously, the notion that people who are happy to eat whales would have no interest in watching them in the wild too, is bogus.

Japan can make the best out of whales by doing a bit of both, in a sustainable fashion, akin to Iceland.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

That photo of the orca shows how disrespectful the Japanese whale-watching business is. Here on Vancouver Island, and in the state of Washington that boat captain would have been fined thousands of dollars for being that close.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Ganbare Japan!Today  05:52 pm JST

There won't be any whale left to watch if the current whaling rate continues.

How do you explain Korea kills more whales than Japan?*

@Zichi - Brilliantly argued

You do not disappoint! ;)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Nice cover!!! But unfortunately, No!!! doesn't hide the fact that they are hunting them! And I know it is an age old tradition! But it is also an age old tradition of the human race to hunt animals to extinction! Something that we are now doing at a prolific rate! And now with our new technology, we can really wipe them out efficiently!!! We need to evolve!!!!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

J tourists love dolphins and watching them at shows or diving with them etc...

In Taiji they also enjoy eating them whilst watching them do their flips, which is just taking the piss really.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

It is strange that no opposition party raising voices against whaling even JCP.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

what about dolphins? is that Taji town still up to that annual slaughter fest?

J tourists love dolphins and watching them at shows or diving with them etc...

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Watch out for Orca . . . they can be very dangerous.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

About 5.1 billion yen ($47.31 million) was budgeted for whaling in 2019.

"If we pull away our hands too soon, a lot of companies will fail," he added

Stop it with the BS already...as it says in the article a few lines above..the whaling employs barely 300 and has no future. If you put the same amount of taxpayer money into supporting a transition from whaling to whale tourism for those 300 you will ensure a long term future for them in a self sufficient and economically viable industry. A number of countries have successfully done the same decades ago. Get over the senile oyaji pride already and do something sensible for once.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Kudos

willthe Green card hold value over here?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Aye,the usual victim card and then point fingers to the others and say how about them?

This practice is anything but cultiure,just a stubborn way to keep something outdated and cruel.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

There won't be any whale left to watch if the current whaling rate continues.

> How do you explain Korea kills more whales than Japan?

@Zichi - Brilliantly argued. why does the Western media always bully Japan on whaling issue? Why not Korea, Iceland, Greenland etc?

If Whale watching is an industry that employs Japanese people like whale hunting, then both can exist. Good for Japan.

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

@ Samit Basu

Could you give us some figures please? I have looked and cannot find any reports of commercial whaling, which makes sense as it is forbidden by Korean Law. There appears to be some poaching but I do not believe it will be more than Japan kills.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Good for this guy, he is trying to find alternatives, I wish him to get a successful business !

9 ( +10 / -1 )

'let the industry founder' - I guess that should be flounder. Let the industry flounder. Focusing on whale watching is a much more logical approach.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Samit Basu

There won't be any whale left to watch if the current whaling rate continues.

How do you explain Korea kills more whales than Japan?

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

It's been shown all around the world that ecotourism is the new boom business and has been increasing for decades. Whale watching is a billion dollar business in Australia.

There are a couple of disturbing points coming form this article. This particular cruise takes place in a national park, but whales are migratory and would only pass through the park after surviving or on their way to the hunting grounds. It's also a little disturbing that they are also hunting orcas. They are toothed whales (actually dolphins). The meat contains a lot of heavy metals and pesticides and should not be consumed, but they are selling it on for children to eat. How wonderful!

5 ( +12 / -7 )

But if you tell that to them, they implode.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Barely 300 people are directly involved with whaling around Japan

the amount consumed annually has fallen to only 0.1 percent of total meat consumption.

So this is worth putting 5 billions into, and worth penalizing the growing whale watching business ?

Too bad the government doesn't take care of other traditions the same way.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Typical mainstream media story about Japan. Always carrying an agenda, always taking one side. What's wrong with preserving classical Japanese culture AND cultivating new ones at the same time?

-12 ( +13 / -25 )

Whaling and eating whale meet are part of Japanese culture since ancient times, except for the widespread consumption of it - that dates all the way back to 1945!!

Slavery and open racism were parts of American culture since before the IS was a country, but we didn't use that as an excuse to maintain either.

14 ( +19 / -5 )

"Barely 300 people are directly involved with whaling around Japan, and though the government maintains whale meat is an important part of food culture, the amount consumed annually has fallen to only 0.1 percent of total meat consumption" and yet " About 5.1 billion yen ($47.31 million) was budgeted for whaling in 2019. Even Japanese economists must be scratching their heads at this budget figure, even 1st grade junior high students would find this absurd. If the resources of those 300 involved in the slaughter of wales was transferred to the tourist industry , just think what a boost that would give tourism.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

There won't be any whale left to watch if the current whaling rate continues.

1 ( +16 / -15 )

it is really beautiful to watch them instead of eating them, its gonna make many people happy and it will bring lot of them to just watch those whales and enjoy a relaxing day

22 ( +25 / -3 )

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