How to Stop Japanese Whaling in its Tracks

Whilst I appreciate the efforts that Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd and the various Australian Governments have given regarding their aims to have the Japanese cease their annual whale harvests, I’m not quite sure they are tackling the issue through the best means available.

Sure the confrontational approach of ramming ships, climbing aboard vessels, getting in the way of harpoons and all of that makes for great TV and dynamic press coverage.  Who hasn’t thought ‘gee that’d be something I could get passionate about’ as you see the pint sized rubber duck take on a giant slice and dice whale factory in the middle of the ocean?

But the challenge with this approach is that whilst media sexy, it misses the glaring gap in the Japanese push for whaling.  I’ll come to that a bit later.

First up though we have to consider just why the Japanese are so ‘passionate’ about whaling.  I say ‘passionate’ because the number of Japanese who are in fact ‘passionate’ is quite small.  Is it the historical factor?  No – plenty of research shows that quite few Japanese eat whale meat, fewer still are aware of any historical links and there’s certainly little real evidence to support whaling by Japan along the lines of the Inuit peoples.  So if it isn’t about history, how valid are the claims of scientific research?  This is the multi-million dollar question that also provides the clue as to How to Stop Japanese Whaling in its Tracks.  Without going into too much detail let me expose my own values and say ‘I don’t buy the scientifc research’ claims as anything other than a myth.  There’s plenty of others who feel the same way, hence the anti-whaling ships hunting the Japanese whaling vessels this year and in past years.

So why then do the Japanese want to pursue whaling?  The answer lies in economics, population growth and geography.  Without putting it too simply, Japan lacks room.  Because Japan lacks room it does not have the ability to farm cattle.  That means it must import cattle and that means it spends money in places like Australia and the United States – countries with an abundance of room to grow cattle.  If Japan wants to increase the protein consumption of its population it has but a handful of choices:  Import beef/lamb etc which costs the Japanese economically; increase the amount of fish on the diet yet international fisheries are under extreme pressure (and the tastes of Japanese are evolving which means fish though dominant is no longer deemed sufficient); and increase chicken consumption (and also egg consumption) but in order to do that it has to import appropriate forms of feed stocks at a time when China is absorbing a goodly portion of the world’s grain output.

Which leads to the obvious conclusion:  No room for cattle, fish stocks under pressure and no desire to increase imports at the same time as there exists a desire to increase the available amounts of protein means one thing – Farm the Oceans for Protein.

And one of the best sources for protein in massive amounts that is easy to ‘harvest’ is whale meat.  The real reason the Japanese want to maintain and increase their whale numbers has nothing to do with scientific research and has everything to do with accessing cheap sources of protein.  The Japanese wish to use the oceans as their ‘farms’ and to treat whales as their ‘cattle’.  A low cost, self feeding, no maintenance farmland with the ship crews acting as the cowhands, the Antarctic ocean as their stockyards, and their ships acting as the slaughterhouse.  And they get all of that for free, plundering a resource that belongs to the world for their own benefit.

So what can be done?

The answer to the challenge lies in the very reason Japans offer as to why they ‘whale’ – scientific research.  We know it’s rubbish, the Japanese Government knows it’s rubbish; the Japanese whalers know it’s rubbish.  So the answer to ‘How to Stop Japanese Whaling in its Tracks’ lies within the very heart of what it means to be Japanese:

‘Honour’.

The Japanese are big on ‘Honour’.  REALLY BIG.  In fact culturally it has been and continues to be a key driver in how they negotiate with the world and with each other.  The need to save ‘kao’ (face) is critical.  Attacking their ships does not allow them to save face and so they will rally against it.  Boarding their ships only enables a relatively disinterested Japanese public to stand behind their own.  Attacking them in whaling commissions also won’t do it – we know that because the loophole that is ‘scientific research’ was offered up because a total ban was not going to be approved or accepted.

What must happen for us to be able to Stop Japanese Whaling in its Tracks is to get the Japanese people to question the ‘honour’ of hiding behind ‘scientific research’ as the reason for whaling and bring their own pressue to bear on their Government.

And to do so, the place to start is to question the ability of Japanese Scientists.  Which means the messages that are sent out work something like this:

  • ‘Japanese Whaling Scientists are the worst and most inept scientists in the world.  We know this because no where else do scientists make so many blunders, require so much base stock and make so many errors in the research process’
  • ‘How stupid are Japanese Whaling Scientists?  In other parts of the world we can harvest stems cells from scrapes of human tissue but in Japan they need not only whole whales, but thousands of them each year just to work out what whales eat’
  • ‘Only the poorest of scientists would work for the whaling industry – how else could they do so little with so much?’
  • ‘To be a whale scientist in Japan is to have no honour – how else could they hide behind the facade?’

You get the picture.  By and large Japan has produced some of the smartest and greatest scientists in the world and still do.  But to have all of Japan’s scientists tarred with the brush of ineptitude, stupidity and lack of honour would be something that culturally would be too painful for the Japanese community to bear.  In a very short time the facade of scientific research would end and that is How to Stop Japanese Whaling in its Tracks.

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