Japanese attempt to ‘save face’ on whaling

The latest twist in the Japanese whaling saga seems to be about the Japanese ‘giving up’ doing something it shouldn’t be doing anyway, and then being allowed to legitimately do something it’s doing already, but in a different place.

Essentially the Japanese Whaling lobby are offering to cease whaling in the South Pacific in return for being able to take an unspecified number of whales in the North Pacific.

If you understand a bit about Japanese culture and business negotiations this looks a lot like a face saving proposal.

nissanmaru_2007125115922I think the Japanese Whaling lobby and their supporters within the Japanese Government and IWC have realised they are losing the battle for ‘hearts and minds’ both internationally and at home.

It is likely that in five years or so the Japanese whaling lobby’s intransigence and endless subsidies will wear very thin with the Japanese tax payer, and they already know that international public opinion is very much against them. 

With the economic outlook grim, the Japanese Government will be wanting to cut costs where it can to prop up public spending to mitigate the economic slump. Whaling is not only a waste of money, but it’s clearly annoying Japanese allies and international public opinion, so it would make sense to quietly seek a compromise that avoids the damaging publicity it is currently suffering, while saving the subsidies it pays to the industry.

Personally I credit Sea Shepherd for this desperate attempt to seek a compromise before it gets so bad they are forced into a publicly humiliating back down – something Japanese take very badly.

The endless bad publicity and the clumsy attempts by the Japanese Whaling lobby to frame their industry as ‘reserch’ (by painting the words in English “Research” on the sides of their whaling industries vessels) and wooden PR campaign have ruined any credibility they may have had.

Their defenders in the ‘West’ are usually Japanophiles that perform some curious displays of logic contortion to justify Japanese ‘rights’ t hunt whales in the South Pacific based on flimsy cultural grounds. Hell, if the Japanese want to go and hunt a few whales off their coast with traditional wooden boats and harpoons, be my guest. Huge factory ships with myriad support vessels, spotter boats, and factory ships isn’t ‘cultural’ it’s economic exploitation.

New Zealand, Australia and the other ‘anti’ whaling block members on the IWC should see the Japanese overtures for what they are, an attempt to save face and retain some form of whaling based on the realisation that in five years even their current program will be so unpopular they will be forced to loose face by backing down completely.

The answer to this current proposal and any other like it, should be ‘NO’. 

Let Japanese continue it’s publicly damaged ‘research’ missions in the South Pacific, and let groups like Sea Shepherd oppose them, this is the surest way to close down this industry for good.

  1. This was my first time at the Perth Writer’s Festival and I just loved it! Chris Pash’s workshop and his book The Last Whale have made a great impact on me, both from learning about how to write non fiction and an objective view of why and how whaling can and should be stopped.

    I think this should be a standard history / sociology text book in our schools.



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