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Environmental Studies

Japan's Whaling Problem



Why is Japan continuing JARPA?




    Diverting Attention

    Japanese Pride


    The US


    Australian Citizens

    Japanese Citizens

   Sea Shepherd


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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.

Last updated:  5/7/2008


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