News - June 19, 2014

Japan is hunting whales again

In the news: Japan has resumed whale-hunting, premier Shinzo announced last week. By doing so, the country ignores a ruling by the International Court in The Hague in March, which said that Japan should stop whale-hunting because it could not prove that it served scientific purposes, as the country claims.

Satoshi Akaike, MSc Environmental Management, from Yokohama:

‘In my whole life, I have eaten less than 100 grams of whale meat. The meat is like the part of the cow you use to make soup, and it was as tough as chewing gum. So it wouldn’t make much difference to me if it wasn’t on sale anymore. That is how most of the Japanese think about it. You can’t get it in the ordinary supermarkets, anyway. You have to go to special restaurants. So it is mainly an issue for politicians who want to conserve traditional Japanese culture and stand up for the interests of one economic sector. On the other hand I don’t understand why many western countries, including the Netherlands, feel so strongly about it. As long as it is done sustainably, I don’t see the difference between killing a cow and killing a whale.’

Emiko Onoki, MSc Organic Agriculture, from Tokio.

‘My parents were still given whale meat to take to school, but hardly anyone eats it anymore now. Most of the people I know who are definitely in favour of whale hunting work at the ministry of agriculture and fisheries, where it is the done thing. Or they are simply staunch nationalists. Nationalism is an increasingly major factor now that conservatism is increasing worldwide. More than anything, this is a matter of identity. It is getting on our nerves in Japan that the west decides what is good and what is bad. I think it’s good that people stand up for Japan’s cultural identity. Only I don’t believe our minister’s argument that whales are being caught for the sake of science. He says research on the whale population will show whether it is big enough to be hunted sustainably, but you don’t have to kill them to find that out, do you?