Daniel Halliday
Feb 6 · Last update 5 mo. ago.

Is Japan right to restart whaling?

In December 2018 Japan announced their withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission citing the organisations failure to promote sustainable hunting, concentrating only on conservation. Japanese officials announce the planned resumption of whale hunting in July 2019, what do you think of this decision?
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Yes - The numbers and the culture
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No, cruel and damaging to ecosystems
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0 disagrees
This issue has been misconstrued and has evolved
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Yes – this is a question of sovereignty
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Media virtue signalling
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Yes - The numbers and the culture

Whaling is part of Japanese culture, going back to the 12th century and modern whaling was introduced to Japan from Norway in 1899. Japan has carried out decades of research on whale numbers through the JARPA and JARPN programs and found evidence that numbers have increased, thus seeking to carry out a sustainable amount of whaling hunting. The issue has become too politicised and the International Whaling Commission has become a vehicle to ban the practice, despite being set up to carry out sustainable whaling practices, this is why Japan left and looks to resume whaling in July 2019.

Evidence of whale remains have been discovered in ancient burial mounds in Japan, emphasising just how old and significant the practice is here. But records of organised whale hunting go back to the sixteenth century, with traditional methods being first modernised with nets being introduced in 1675. However it was through 19th century competition with British and American whaling vessels in the Northern Pacific that Japan tried to modernise its whaling industry, learning the Norwegian whaling techniques from Russian companies. This long history with whaling should not be ignored when considering the morality of Japanese whaling, as it is not with other countries who are still involved with whaling.

whaling.jp/english/history.html web.archive.org/web/20091010070712/http://whaling.jp/english/isana/no34_01.html web.archive.org/web/20021122171924/http://www.icrwhale.org/japan-history.htm

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Daniel Halliday
May 6
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.whaling.jp/english/history.html https://web.archive.org/web/20091010070712/http://whaling.jp/english/isana/no34_01.html https://web.archive.org/web/20021122171924/http://www.icrwhale.org/japan-history.htm

No, cruel and damaging to ecosystems

There is nothing scientific in the hunting or killing of whales and that excuse has run its course. This latest backlash from Japan is in response to members of the IWC becoming less tolerant of Japan's misuse of the Commission’s rules, and their ignoring the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. The cruelty and damage whaling leads to is perceived as wrong by most nations around the world, with even multinational organisations such as the United Nations being firmly opposed to the practice of whaling.

The IWC banned commercial whaling in 1986 after many species approached extinction, and by breaking ties with the organisation Japan risks undoing this positive protective move. Japan’s decision has already been met with fierce criticism internationally, from both environmentalist organisations and foreign governments. Australia’s foreign minister stated that “Australia remains resolutely opposed to all forms of ... whaling” [1], while Sam Annesley of Greenpeace has described Japan’s decision as “out of step with the international community” [1].

[1] bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-46682976 us.whales.org/our-4-goals/stop-whaling/whaling-in-japan

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Daniel Halliday
May 6
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DH edited this paragraph
The IWC banned commercial whaling in 1986 after many species approached extinction, and by breaking ties with the organisation Japan risks undoing this positive protective move. Japan’s decision has already been met with fierce criticism internationally, from both environmentalist organisations and foreign governments. Australia’s foreign minister stated that “Australia remains resolutely opposed to all forms of ... whaling” [1], while Sam Annesley of Greenpeace has described Japan’s decision as “out of step with the international community” [1].

This issue has been misconstrued and has evolved

This ongoing issue has become more of an issue of protecting culture and identity, and the questioning of it has come to represent an attack on Japanese culture and identity. This is all despite the decline of whale consumption, but as whale becomes increasingly unpopular it also becomes an increasingly charged issue politically. The subject of whaling is used as a political tactic to make the Japanese government appear strong on issues of national identity, even if it is a fairly easy area to exercise control (a lot easier than the complex issues such as North Korea, US military bases or Korean comfort women at least).

The nature of this being a mainly political argument becomes increasingly clear when considering the commercial viability of Japanese whaling. Whaling has required government subsidies surmounting $164 million since 1988 to replenish Japanese stockpiles of around 5000 tons of whale meat, which is repeatedly falling in price due to its lack of popularity. This government funded abundance has even led to a scandal in 2005, when the Japanese government came under attack for encouraging public schools to serve whale for school lunches despite the high mercury levels of whale meat being deemed unsuitable for children and pregnant women. Despite all this the main issue when debated in Japan seems to be based around national identity more than reality.

nytimes.com/2014/10/14/opinion/the-big-lie-behind-japanese-whaling.html greenpeace.org/archive-international/en/campaigns/oceans/fit-for-the-future/whaling/japanese-whaling wwf.panda.org/?167621/Norway-Japan-prop-up-whaling-industry-with-taxpayer-money reuters.com/article/us-japan-whalemeat/whalemeat-in-japanese-school-lunches-found-toxic-idUST6359120070801

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Daniel Halliday
May 6
Approved
DH edited this paragraph
This ongoing issue has become more of an issue of protecting culture and identity, and the questioning of it has come to represent an attack on Japanese culture and identity. This is all despite the decline of whale consumption, but as whale becomes increasingly unpopular it also becomes an increasingly charged issue politically. The subject of whaling is used as a political tactic to make the Japanese government appear strong on issues of national identity, even if it is a fairly easy area to exercise control (a lot easier than the complex issues such as North Korea, US military bases or Korean comfort women at least).

Yes – this is a question of sovereignty

Japan’s decision to leave the International Whaling Commission was the choice to use their own territorial waters with the intention to cease whaling in Antarctic waters, this is an issue of sovereignty and is a decision that should be left up to Japanese citizens. However there is a large push by international organisations and the media to carry on criticising the country for their whaling practices. But any argument of what Japan should or shouldn’t do, made by outside interests is a promotion of imperialism, and a challenge to Japanese sovereignty.

But following the 2018 Florianopolis withdrawal of Japan from the IWC, citing their failure to promote sustainable whale hunting and instead concentrating solely on conservation, the international community at large are no longer privy to know how many whales Japan now intends to hunt. Since 1985 the actual numbers of whales hunted by Japanese vessels has amounted to a few hundred annually and only exceeded a thousand in 2005 and 2008. Japan proposed to hunt just 3000 whales over the next decade before leaving the IWC, when Antartic Minke whale stocks alone are thought to stand at 515,000. However, the lack of media coverage of these numbers and of Japan’s decision to cease Antarctic whaling could amount to a smear campaign, and definitely involves media sensationalism. Japan should carry on to use its own sovereign territory how it sees fit, as any other territory would expect to do the same without Japanese interference.

muse.jhu.edu/article/242708/pdf iwc.int/table_permit asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Japan-s-IWC-exit-no-magic-bullet-for-foundering-whalers

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Daniel Halliday
May 6
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DH edited this paragraph
Japan’s decision to leave the International Whaling Commission was the choice to use their own territorial waters with the intention to cease whaling in Antarctic waters, this is an issue of sovereignty and is a decision that should be left up to Japanese citizens. However there is a large push by international organisations and the media to carry on criticising the country for their whaling practices. But any argument of what Japan should or shouldn’t do, made by outside interests is a promotion of imperialism, and a challenge to Japanese sovereignty.

Media virtue signalling

The whole world is engaging in similar practices of over-fishing, yet the over-fishing of less ‘majestic’ creatures fails to make headlines, so it is wrong to make an example of Japan in this way when nearly all countries that practice fishing are committing similar atrocities on a huge scale and a wide range of species. Some major world policies need to be put into place to address: over fishing, the loss of migratory bird habitats, the sprawling of urban areas that encroach on natural habitats, and the wild scale deforestation for agricultural land that still continues at an alarming and unsustainable rate. The national news-media's blaming of other countries in an environmental/cultural mudslinging contest, will only continue to foster ill will, while everyone becomes increasingly uninformed on the realities surrounding certain issues such as this. Media virtue signalling derails productive discussion on all topics.

The Australian media is often guilty of depicting Japanese whaling in this skewed way, to try and appeal emotionally to their audience, often clearly using sensitive images or emotive language to mislead the audience or make situations seem more extreme than they are. Examples of this are Australian media's frequent use of words such as kill, hunt and corpse, the commenting on pictures as being of "mother and calf" despite this being speculation, and the mixing-up of Antarctic and Australian waters, even though that’s not legally true and goes against the Antarctic Treaty. The media need to inform and engage the public in this very difficult debate, not distract readers/listener/viewers with displays of cultural or moral superiority, the journalistic virtue signalling needs to stop.

news.flinders.edu.au/blog/2014/02/12/media-too-biased-on-whaling abc.net.au/news/2008-02-07/whale-kill-photos-misleading-japanese-say/1036156

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Latest conversation
Daniel Halliday
May 3
Approved
DH edited this paragraph
The whole world is engaging in similar practices of over-fishing, yet the over-fishing of less ‘majestic’ creatures fails to make headlines, so it is wrong to make an example of Japan in this way when nearly all countries that practice fishing are committing similar atrocities on a huge scale and a wide range of species. Some major world policies need to be put into place to address: over fishing, the loss of migratory bird habitats, the sprawling of urban areas that encroach on natural habitats, and the wild scale deforestation for agricultural land that still continues at an alarming and unsustainable rate. The national news-media's blaming of other countries in an environmental/cultural mudslinging contest, will only continue to foster ill will, while everyone becomes increasingly uninformed on the realities surrounding certain issues such as this. Media virtue signalling derails productive discussion on all topics.
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