Eco-pariah? Why Japan refuses to stop whaling

ALERT member Craig Morley is dismayed by Japan's recent decision to continue it's banned whaling campaign in the southern oceans, and suggests why the country is pushing the issue so hard:

  Another dead whale for 'science'...

Another dead whale for 'science'...

On March 31, I posted an ALERT blog describing how the U.N. International Court of Justice had ordered Japan to halt its Jarpa II whaling 'research program'. 

I questioned then whether this would actually stop Japan whaling in the southern oceans, and also whether Japanese whalers might simply hunt elsewhere.

However, the Court ruling left the door open for Japan to advance a new proposal for whaling in the southern oceans, if it met the Court's strict terms. 

Unfortunately, the ruling also sparked a spike in whale-meat consumption in Japan, as people there feared they might not taste it again.  As a result, it now seems Japan is on the hunt again for another 51 minke whales.

In reality, few Japanese eat whale meat, and there are warehouses full of it in Japan. 

In a survey conducted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper (with 1,756 respondents), only 4% of Japanese said they eat whale “sometimes,” whereas 10% consume it “fairly infrequently.” 

Moreover, nearly half (48%) of the respondents answered they have not eaten whale meat in “a long time,” and 37% said they have never eaten it at all.

Whale-meat consumption continues to fall in Japan.  Rakuten Inc., Japan’s largest online retailer, and Lawson’s, a major convenience-store chain, say they no longer stock whale meat products.

This begs the question as to why Japan is fighting so hard to continue its whaling program, given that whale meat is no longer an important part of the Japanese diet.

In simple truth, much of what the country has been doing is motivated by Japanese prideEven with slackening demand and with growing international condemnation, the country believes it has an inalienable right to continue whaling.

But both the world's whales and Japan's international reputation are paying a heavy price for such dogged intransigence.