Japan's Whaling Problem
Although the IWC moratorium made exceptions for research programs such
as JARPA, JARPA is by no means a genuine research program. Although JARPA claims
to cull whales for research purposes, the advent of new technology has made it
possible to obtain the same data without harming the whales. In spite of this
fact, JARPA has continued to cull whales under the guise of science.
The other arguments offered by pro-whaling parties seem delusive.
Although it is true that minor Japanese towns have a history of whaling, the
nation as a whole started to whale only recently. This information further adds
to the fact that whaling never played any significant role in the Japanese
economy. Simply put, the people in Japan simply do not eat whale meat; the
large amounts of whale meat accumulated over the years in frozen stockpiles
have to be force-fed to elementary school children.
In fact, whaling is actually hurting the Japanese economy. There is
little revenue to be gained from the sale of whale meat, hence, the Japanese
government is secretive about the actual numbers. Yet year after year, Japanese
whalers leave to cull more whales. The cost of operating these ships cannot be
paid for by the sale of whale meat; these ships are actually being paid for by
the Japanese government, using Japanese tax payers’ money.
The diversion argument, while having some strong facts to back it, such
as the overfishing of tuna, is still mainly speculative at this point. While
Japan does consume prodigious amounts of seafood, it would be in Japan’s best
interest to overfish. If Japan were to overfish now, its important fishing
industry would eventually collapse and significantly affect the Japanese way of
life in the future. Neither of these would be in Japan’s best interests.
The primary reason why Japan is fighting so fiercely over the whaling
issue is easy to deduce: national pride. As Japanese citizens as well as public
officials have previously stated, Japan’s policy on whaling is only being
upheld because of a small but vocal group of nationalists. Having been heavily
coerced by Western countries in the past, the whaling issue is mainly about
Japan showing that it can now stand up to the Western countries.
This reason is unacceptable: Japan should not do more harm to already
threatened whale species in order to preserve its national pride. The Japanese government
must realize that JARPA is doing more harm than good for public opinion at home
and abroad. The government must acknowledge that research can be done without
culling the whales as well as understand that the general Japanese public has a
negative opinion towards whaling. The government must recognize these errors
and must dissolve JARPA immediately.