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Whale 'research institute' a flashpoint in global dispute

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By Peter Brieger and Hiroshi Hiyama

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"“Rather, it is a predominantly Western phenomenon in developed countries amplified by anti-whaling fundraising NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the Western media,”

Actually the above is all factually correct. And AFP is one of the worst biased media sources around.

-18 ( +7 / -25 )

Captured whales are studied by the Institute, which refers to its work on them as “lethal research”

Mmmm....slurp, this one appears to have a slightly richer flavour that the last....slurp....and it's tougher too...slurp.....

0 ( +7 / -7 )

So, again, is it science? Or is it culture? Not everyone seems to be on the same page.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

@OssanAmerica

I presume, since all is "factually correct" and approved by you that this is also so:

“If they can’t get enough data by killing thousands of whales, then that is a failure of the science,” he said.

It seems to me it is less about science or some bogus culture and more about maintaining the budget.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

So, again, is it science? Or is it culture? Not everyone seems to be on the same page.

neither science nor culture, now they may say it is Japanese Chemistry :(

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Down that hallway and through that unmarked door, behind the sign that reads “Keep Out,” lurks a handful of faceless old men who make a lot of money out of the unprofitable but shored-up-by-the-taxpayer whaling industry. They are the reason Japan is so stubborn about this obsolete part of its 'culture'. The reason they're not interested in interviews is that they know their position is indefensible.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

So, again, is it science? Or is it culture? Not everyone seems to be on the same page.

Neither science nor culture, but a scam.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

It is all about getting the government to pay for their whale meat. There is no worthwhile research it is all a pretense for Japan to harvest whale meat. The warehouses are full of surplus whale meat. It is time to stop this farce.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

When told the taxpayer-funded institute had not responded to AFP’s interview requests, he said: “That means no. It means we’re not interested.”

What has it got to do with it being taxpayer funded?Last I heard AFP was A French company. It has nothing to do with Japanese taxpayers money.

Maybe they had read some of the AFP's incredibly biased articles on whaling and knew it wasn't worth speaking to them?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Do you people know why Japan hunts whales? Culture. If its 4000 or 1. It would still be Culture and nobody wants to lose its Culture.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

So in order to count whales they need to capture and kill them.... Often in Japan I see people sitting on corners counting people in order to get an idea of how many people go by a certain area.... I'm just happy they don't use the same methods as these "whale researchers".

5 ( +9 / -4 )

The reason for killing whales:

Tatemae: it is our culture; it is science.

Honne: we at this institute are getting a cushy job at taxpayers' expense.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

MoonrakerApr. 08, 2013 - 07:39AM JST @OssanAmerica I presume, since all is "factually correct" and approved by you that this is also so:

No moonraker if you actually read my post I said that this statement: “Rather, it is a predominantly Western phenomenon in developed countries amplified by anti-whaling fundraising NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the Western media,” is factually correct.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I don't think it's science or culture here. I think it's simply the pride of stubborn old men.

The whale scientists are happy to have a source of funding to do their work. The people who enjoy eating whale enjoy the source of whale meat.

But neither party would actively choose to stick their finger in the worlds eye this way unless they were stubborn old men who hated to be told what to do by outsiders.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Western, developed nations have always been the drivers of the environmental movement. The Japans, Indias, Chinas, etc, always play catch-up. India, for example, finally shut down their cultural tradition of bear-bating just last year - after much pressure over many years from western nations and these "meddling" western environmental NGOs. No shock there on the ICR website. These publicly-funded pseudo-scientists at the ICR seem awfully defensive - maybe having their snouts in the public trough is coming to an end...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

From what I recall, while Japanese people have hunted whales in the past, it's far from something might be called a historical tradition - more a marginal activity. Whale meat only became popular in the post-war period, amid massive food shortages, as an austerity food, like the much reviled snook was in Britain.

Now, I think it's two things: one is to continue to subsidise a dying industry that nevertheless still has a lot of political capital in rural coastal areas (particularly ones that happen to be LDP strongholds; and the other is for an increasingly out of touch and irrelevant Japan to thumb its nose at the West.

All in all, it represents all that is sordid and rotten in Japanese politics: vested interests, corruption, embezzlement, national egoism, and acting against the public good.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"Down a hallway and through an unmarked door is a small lobby with a model ship, a poster showing various whale species, and a sign that reads “Keep Out”."

Maybe they need all this research to continually update that whale species poster.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It is Japanese food culture,” said 45-year-old Miuka Arita.

BS, no it is not, the media has brainwashed you and the rest of the country into believing otherwise but eating whale meat is not generally seen as being a part of the food culture of Japan.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

“The purpose of Japan’s research is science—science that will ensure that when commercial whaling is resumed it will be sustainable.”

Hello! You ignorant twits! Commercial whaling will NEVER resume! History proved that commercial whaling is not viable! That crap about 'whaling culture' is getting pretty stale. The ONLY reason Japan wants to resume commercial whaling is for profit! Plain and simple! The conservation over the last the 40 odd years has lead to a major recovery of whale populations although, most are still only around 30% of what they were 200 years ago. Now, the Japanese have yen signs in their eyes and think they have the right to plunder it. Well, sorry, but it is just not gonna happen, EVER! So, get used to it!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Why where whales originally brought to the edge of extinction? This question seems to have been forgotten. I do not support whaling of any kind but who brought whales to the point of almost no return which now does not allow nations who traditionally hunted the species for food to do so anymore.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What is a culture? Did Edo period people get in a boat to a South Pole with a SONAR? Of course, no.

"Culture" is like a magic word, I think. If older Japanese man says "culture", it's really mean, "I don't really have a real way to defend my stupid action. Therefore, I will pretend it is rightful for making stupid action from a long ago"

Whale is a so beautiful animal. Not even so delicious - we never eat! Why I must give a tax to pay oyaji team to kill it?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

History proved that commercial whaling is not viable!

Prove it.

There is no reason that commercial whaling should be banned, except some strange "love for whales". "Whales are intelligent." "Whales are so great." "It is western culture to love whales. Who are stubborn, Japanese or whale lovers?

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

To the Japanese from Hill City Kansas USA, keep hunting

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Dukeleto

Why where whales originally brought to the edge of extinction? This question seems to have been forgotten.

Very good point. It was Americans who drove whales in Northern Pacific to almost distinction.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Sorry, I meant "extinction".

Very good point. It was Americans who drove whales in Northern Pacific to almost distinction.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

" Captured whales are studied by the Institute, which refers to its work on them as “lethal research” before their meat is sold across Japan, "

"Lethal research" LOL, yes I think that is one way to describe it. But isn´t the statement factually incorrect? "Captured whales" sounds like the creatures are alive when they are studied, which is obviously not the case.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@chincho Who are stubborn, Japanese or whale lovers? haha you make it sound like all Japanese eat whale meat and support whaling, when its actually only a small MINORITY that do. its only a small minority like yourself that are the stubborn ones when it comes to pro whaling.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

A quick search will show that there are over 100,000 restaurants serving whale dishes in Tokyo alone.

Well they're obviously not serving very much, because the freezers are still full. Year-end stocks up from 1922 tons in 2000 to 4246 tons in 2008.

http://www.jfa.maff.go.jp/j/study/enyou/pdf/shiryo2_4.pdf, graph on P7

0 ( +5 / -5 )

CH3CHO - It was Americans who drove whales in Northern Pacific to almost extinction.

You are quite wrong with this statement. There was a swag of countries responsible for the demise of whales in the north and south pacific and also in the Atlantic. Now, all these countries have grown up and realised that whales are worth more money alive than dead. All these countries except Japan, of course. I have no problems with indigenous cultural hunting or small scale hunting by smaller countries as a major source of food, but Japan is neither. The Japanese want to send that huge factory ship "Nishin Maru' to the other end of the world and fill its coffers with a resource created by the conservation efforts (and maturity) of other countries so they can profit from it. They lie to suport it with some sort of cultural bulldust and also bribe smaller countries to gain their support. And then, they turn around and call SS pirates? A pirate by definition is: any plunderer, predator, etc. The Japanese are the pirates!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

wow, get "bad" votes for just posting facts, no opinions.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

$10 million of tax money going down the drain or should I say into someone's pocket. It must be more than that. And who are these guys running the show anyway? Are they members of the Golden Parachute group? Needless to say, compared to the population as a whole, mostly those in the older age segment seem to believe it's culturally delicious. Tried it once when I first got here many years ago and my impression was ugh.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Who are stubborn, Japanese or whale lovers?

Equally both!

A quick search will show that there are over 100,000 restaurants serving whale dishes in Tokyo alone.

100,000? Search of what? A whale promotion web site? Gimmie a break here, 100,000? Find this hard to believe.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

And where does this nonsense come from that it is western culture to love whales? When Japan was a technologically-backward, feudal country there were ocean-going whalers all over the world from Europe and America. They decimated the whale populations in some areas long before Japan ever thought about whaling beyond its shores.

It is amazing how easily the debaters get polarized by the debate as set down by the Japanese whaling industry itself. You are being manipulated by the ridiculous "culture" argument.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Apologies, OssanAmerica, I misinterpreted your post.

Nonetheless I do not agree with your claim. I think the Japanese media is much more biased on this issue. When was the last time you saw or heard a Japanese person who was against whaling in the media? Yet most of my Japanese friends are against it.

The old men who profit from the killing and the Japanese media always set up the debate as western anti-whalers versus Japanese who are presumed to be for it. It is nonsense.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

When was the last time you saw or heard a Japanese person who was against whaling in the media?

Japanese media if you haven't noticed stays away from issues like this one and the people are pretty much kept in the dark and have no idea about what their country is doing.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Moonraker

When was the last time you saw or heard a Japanese person who was against whaling in the media? Yet most of my Japanese friends are against it.

That is hardly a scientific study.

Back in 2001, government statistics office made a survey asking opinion about "sustainable commercial whaling" to Japanese. The result was; 75.4% yes, 9.9% no. Remaining 14.6% did not answer the question.

This is an internet survey in 2006. http://polls.dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/quiz/quizresults.php?poll_id=120&wv=1&typeFlag=1 90% answered yes to commercial whaling. 11% answered no to commercial whaling.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

"The purpose of Japan’s research is science—science that will ensure that when commercial whaling is resumed it will be sustainable.”

Annnnddddd cue contradiction and hypocrisy in 10-9-8...

"However, Fisheries minister Yoshimasa Hayashi recently told AFP in an interview that the hunt would continue, dismissing anti-whaling voices as “a cultural attack, a kind of prejudice against Japanese culture”.

“It is Japanese food culture,” said 45-year-old Miuka Arita.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

A quick search will show that there are over 100,000 restaurants serving whale dishes in Tokyo alone.

http://tabelog.com/RC019911/tokyo/0/0/0/COND-0-0-2-0-0-0-0-0/D/

You seriously should check your own link out there, scroll down the page a bit and look.......

1~20件を表示 / 全30件

That means, the page was showing 1 through 20 of a TOTAL of 30 establishments that serve whale on their menu in Tokyo.

Now that's a number that I could believe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

smithinjapan,

Where is the contradiction? Eating whales is Japanese food culture, and Japanese want it sustainable through scientific management of whaling. Research whaling is necessary to estimate the sustainable catch limits for commercial whaling.

Will you answer me where the contradiction is?

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

CH3CHO: "Will you answer me where the contradiction is?"

Gladly. They say it's "for science", then say no one has a right to complain about the science. They exploit the scientific loophole to put whale on the plates of old people, who are also usually the same ones who complain about having had to eat that as their only form of protein (especially post-war). Tell me where 'cultural tradition' comes into play with the big diesel ships in the Southern Ocean?

Yubaru: When you list that over 100,000 restaurants in the Tokyo area alone serve whale products, dolphin can be included in that group. All the same, while people arguable how sustainable the cultur---ahem, scientific whaling is, it is NOT sustainable financially, and that's a whole other problem you can add. The only ones still doing it are covered by the government.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The whaling issue is prolonged because Australians sticks to extreme "Zero Catch Limits", which has no scientific reasons but just emotional reason that "we love whales and no whale should be killed". Why cannot you be a little realistic and set a catch limit like 2000 Minke whales for commercial whaling, and call it a day?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Nessie: "I'd wager more people have eaten whale since WWII than have been to watch kabuki."

Does kabuki purport to NEED lethal research to sell their product? Well, okay, taken a 'certain' kabuki actor who gets drunk and likes to pick fights out of the equation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smithinjapan, read the convention.

International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling Article VIII

.1. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Convention any Contracting Government may grant to any of its nationals a special permit authorizing that national to kill, take and treat whales for purposes of scientific research subject to such restrictions as to number and subject to such other conditions as the Contracting Government thinks fit, and the killing, taking, and treating of whales in accordance with the provisions of this Article shall be exempt from the operation of this Convention. Each Contracting Government shall report at once to the Commission all such authorizations which it has granted. Each Contracting Government may at any time revoke any such special permit which it has granted.

.2. Any whales taken under these special permits shall so far as practicable be processed and the proceeds shall be dealt with in accordance with directions issued by the Government by which the permit was granted.

http://iwc.int/cache/downloads/1r2jdhu5xtuswws0ocw04wgcw/convention.pdf

It says that the whales taken through research whaling should be processed. Japan does what is required by the convention.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

It says that the whales taken through research whaling should be processed.

It says that any whales taken shall be processed, suggesting that scientific research would involve the killing of few if any whales, and that they were thinking in terms of as few whales as possible being taken for scientific purposes as and when necessary, not close to a thousand at a time every year for years on end, for processing onto plates.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

According to this website, there are 36 whale restaurants in Tokyo : http://cat.gnavi.co.jp/x/ag/22/CATAB13/CATGB061/p/10/1/

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Wether they Say its Scientific or Cultural its Wrong. Waste of funds that Should be Used for Rehousing Displaced persons and Solving Reactor problems.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

cleo,

It says that any whales taken shall be processed, suggesting that scientific research would involve the killing of few if any whales

Why does it suggest that scientific research would involve the killing of few if any whales?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Ron Barnes, if the whaling is profitable, it is commercial whaling. Blaming "research whaling" for unprofitability, or lack of market demand is contradictory on the side of anti-whaling group.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Charles M Burns, the world is run by rules. You do not have any right to set your own rule and force it to everyone.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

And do you believe this so called research will ever end, say in a 100 years or will more research be needed. I'm just saying be honest and stop lying, or is that too hard to do?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Charles M Burns, it is anti whaling countries that are prolonging the research whaling. When the moratorium of commercial whaling was resolved in 1982, it was agreed that new catch limits would be established by 1990 based on findings of research whaling and other scientific estimation of whale stock. However, anti whaling countries just refused to acknowledge the scientific findings and delayed the setting of new catch limits. It is now 23 years overdue. Research must be continued as long as anti whaling countries say that the research is not enough. Who is the bad guy in this case?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Those who deliberately lie and deceive are the bad guys.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I have no problem with the Japanese claiming cultural tradition if they want to whale in their own waters, but they have no historic tradition of sailing to the antarctic to whale. They have failed to maintain the whale stocks in their own waters and now expect to be able to sail around the world to hunt whales far from Japan. The world says no!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

cramp, Atlantic blue fin tuna is the endangered tuna, which is mainly caught by Europeans and Africans.

and their scientists must really suck if they still can't figure the whales out

Look at the bottom of this page, titled "COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT", on IWC site. http://iwc.int/estimate It says the scientists are still undertaking "in-depth analyses" of whales that they started in 1982.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

thoutz, it was Americans that sailed all the way to Japan to catch whales during 19th and 20th century, when Japan did not have modern whaling technology. I think Antarctic Ocean does not belong to you or to any country. If IWC says that Japan has the right to whale in Antarctic Ocean, I do not see anything wrong here.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

The IWC doesn't say Japan has the right to whale in the Antarctic. The IWC has repeatedly asked Japan to halt it's hunt.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

CH3CHO: When you attack the science, and people fall back on the "You're attacking our culture" argument, it's pretty clear they do not think it's for the purpose of science at all, but for the 'culture'. Hence, once again, the utter hypocrisy of stating that the purpose is for science.

"thoutz, it was Americans that sailed all the way to Japan to catch whales during 19th and 20th century, when Japan did not have modern whaling technology."

Awwww... now we have only THIS to fall back on? And did they sail 'to Japan' or into the Pacific? Suddenly it's not so simple that Japan is carrying out 'tradition' in the Southern Ocean, is it? You're attacking American culture!! :)

"If IWC says that Japan has the right to whale in Antarctic Ocean, I do not see anything wrong here."

Because they are not doing it for the purported reason, but exploiting a loophole to do it for food no one here wants, so they can get more government subsidies.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

CH3CHO: "cramp, Atlantic blue fin tuna is the endangered tuna, which is mainly caught by Europeans and Africans."

Seriously? This is your off-topic counter-argument? You do realize most of it is exported to Japan -- the consumer of 80% of the world's blue-fin tuna. When talks were made of more restrictions on fishing it, do you know what many Japanese said? You guessed it, "You're attacking our culture!" Some people actually, unbelievably, said Europe has no right to eat the fish THERE if it is near extinction because Japan has been eating it for so much longer and it was therefore somehow EUROPE's fault the fish are becoming extinct!

So once again, THIS is your defense of whaling? Your arguments seem to be unravelling a little.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

But the Institute insists “anti-whaling is not ‘world opinion.’”

The developed economies and the developing economies are the ones with the technological and material resources to launch fleets of whaling ships that can hunt the sea mammals to extinction. Which pretty much is what was happening when they finally banned commercial whaling.

What is the purpose of killing whales for scientific research? Other marine biologists just observe whales to learn about them. Why can't Japan's scientific researchers do the same?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Some whaling is allowed in other countries.... the difference is that those countries do their whaling in their own waters on their own shores. Japanese whalers traditionally hunted in their own waters off of their own shores until around 1910. They then started whaling around the Korean Peninsula after Japan had annexed Korea. Traditionally Japan only hunted whale in its own waters but as stocks depleted they went further. If Japan wants to take whales from its local waters I can somewhat see that as culturally traditional.... as long as the numbers are within reason. But to travel 6,000 miles to whale, I don't see any culture or tradition there.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nonetheless I do not agree with your claim. I think the Japanese media is much more biased on this issue. When was the last time you saw or heard a Japanese person who was against whaling in the media? Yet most of my Japanese friends are against it.

Greenpeace, Japan.

Tokyo says that researching the mammals is “perfectly legal” under international whaling rules, as is selling meat by-products. Organs including ovaries and stomach contents are crucial for research, the Institute says.

Perhaps AFP needs to read and comprehend the IWC charter and the organ's purpose.

What I see on many posts here are happy medium. Lift the moratorium, allow coastal whaling, and prohibit lethal research in the Southern Oceans. Oh wait. I recall some nations disagreeing with this proposal.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

HokoOnchi

What is the purpose of killing whales for scientific research?

Research whaling is whaling for estimating the population and age distribution of whale stock. To know the age of a whale, it is required to kill the whale. Scientific research whaling is not a zoological reserch, but a scientific research for whaling.

http://iwc.int/cache/downloads/1r2jdhu5xtuswws0ocw04wgcw/convention.pdf

International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, Article VIII

.4. Recognizing that continuous collection and analysis of biological data in connection with the operations of factory ships and land stations are indispensable to sound and constructive management of the whale fisheries, the Contracting Governments will take all practicable measures to obtain such data.

Obtaining "biological data in connection with the opereations of factory ships and land stations" with all practicable measure is an obligation of IWC member countries.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

CH3CHO: "Research whaling is whaling for estimating the population and age distribution of whale stock"

It's for izakayas so that old men can reminisce about how they used to complain about all they had to eat was blubber after the war, and that's all. Since they were forced to eat it, little kids in schools should be too, right?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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