This article should be titled: "Japanese whaling: How to present a biased narrative by selectively ignoring history"
1) Japanese whaling hasn't been "traditional" since Juro Oka introduced Norwegian whaling technology and methods at the start of the 20th century. There is nothing traditional about killing as many whales as possible in a single season in order to sell whale oil to western countries for margarine production -- but that's exactly what Japan's first modern whaling companies did. And traditional Japanese whaling was shore whaling in open boats -- not pelagic whaling or Antarctic whaling.
2) Some like to pretend that the ancestors of every living Japanese person were once whalers but early "traditional" whaling was limited to a few isolated coastal villages like Taiji. In fact, some parts of Japan worshiped whales and never ate them -- something commonly overlooked by those determined to insist whaling is inherently Japanese.
3) "...thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry" are not the only words in the 1946 ICRW. Some like to pretend that the IWC exists to only facilitate whaling. However, the 1946 ICRW was based on earlier agreements intended to protect whale stocks from extinction. The ICRW also gives the IWC the authority (in Article V) to declare protected species, closed seasons, off-limits areas (including sanctuaries), size limits, acceptable methods, catch quotas, and more...
4) The Japanese whaling industry has historically violated size limits, species protections, seasonal limits, all manner of quotas, and even facilitated "pirate whaling" (that's front companies with foreign labor killing whales in secret and smuggling the unreported meat to Japan)...
5) Japan first abused the 'science loophole' just after Bryde's whales were declared 'protected' by the IWC in 1976 by issuing its whalers a 'science permit' and killing over 200 protected Bryd'es whales the following season.
6) The world's whaling industries were systematically wiping out nearly all species of whales and when the public became aware of this the Save the Whales movement was formed. Activists, including Paul Watson, went after the Soviet Union, Iceland, Norway, pirate whalers, and even Australia long before interfering with Japanese whaling. Japan has NOT been singled out.
7) IWC statistics show that since the moratorium went into effect, Japan has killed endangered Fin whales, endangered Sei whales, vulnerable Sperm whales, Bryde's whales (population uncertain), common Minke whales in the North Pacific (many from the vulnerable J-stock), and Antarctic Minke whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (this species is also in decline according to the IUCN). Not to mention more whales indiscriminately taken as bycatch and the commercial slaughter of up to 20,000 dolphins including rare beaked whales.
8) Japan also acts as the world market for whale meat by importing hundreds of tons of endangered Fin whale meat from Iceland -- a trade that would not exist otherwise and which is prohibited by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES)
9) Only a small fraction of the Japanese population actually consumes whale meat and if not for the government including whale in compulsory school lunches most Japanese children would never know the taste of whale. According to Jun Morikawa, author of "Whaling in Japan: Power, Politics, and Diplomacy", whale meat was only ever a substitute meat during the post war recovery. When Japanese families could afford other meat, they stopped purchasing whale, even when it was cheaper.
How is industrial whaling 'cultural' when the hunting methods and locations are foreign, the animals are killed to mass produce canned meat like any other product, and hardly anyone in the country actually eats the meat?
How are protests culturally biased when anti-whaling activists have carried out campaigns against western "white countries" too?
How is a long pattern of subverting and violating international whaling regulations considered 'science' when so many scientists have openly criticized lethal research as unnecessary to manage whale stocks?
Perhaps the readers of Japan Today would be better served by authors who actually research the whaling conflict instead of publishing an opinion piece that selectively ignores the last century of whaling.
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People need to keep in mind that it is US law that requires the Secretary of Commerce to certify when other countries are hurting international conservation programs. The same law gives power to the US president to enact economic sanctions. Ronald Reagan hit Japan with sanctions over whaling in 1988.
What most people don't realize is that Iceland, and other whaling nations, have a long history of violating whaling regulations. In fact, during the 20th century, industrial whaling nearly wiped out most of the world's large whale species and many remain endangered today as a result.
A significant reason for this certification is the fact that Iceland's whalers have been killing endangered Fin whales for the last two years at THREE TIMES the number considered sustainable by International Whaling Commission scientists IF there was a number allowed other than ZERO.
In 1986 the IWC established a moratorium on all commercial whaling and Fin whales were protected before that. Iceland originally accepted the decision but then followed Japan's lead and started killing whales for bogus "research" purposes, only to continue selling whale meat to Japan. Today, despite multiple international conventions prohibiting the whale meat trade, Iceland continues to kill endangered Fin whales without the pretense of science to again, export the meat for Japanese dinner plates.
The threat of U.S. sanctions, consumer boycotts, and direct action by radical environmental groups all helped to pressure Iceland to give up whaling once before in 1989. It was 14 years before the killing began again. Hopefully, this bold step by the USA will be followed by even more pressure from people all over the world to put an end to commercial whaling for good.
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For the record... Aboriginal hunters in N. America (US Alaska) only kill about 30 to 60 per year for subsistence (ie: not to produce canned whale meat for money but because they live off of the land)
Anybody who wants to confirm this can check the International Whaling Commission website at: http://www.iwcoffice.org/conservation/table_aboriginal.htm
Total killed by aboriginal Alaskan whalers in 2009? 38... not "1,000" as some has incorrectly suggested.
In fact, all of the aboriginal hunts together don't even come to half of that number.
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YOU CAN HELP!
Write to President Obama!
Ask the U.S. President to enact sanctions against Icelandic marine products (under the 1971 Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman's Protective Act and 1979 Packwood-Magnuson Amendment to the Fishery Conservation and Management Act) until the commercial slaughter of whales, especially endangered species, is stopped!
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