Japanese Whaling

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As early as the 12th Century though to the 20th century, Japan has been involved in the hunting and slaughtering of whales for food and other produce. Japan can trace their whaling history back hundreds of years, to when whales were driven into nets, harpooned repeatedly and then dispatched with either a long sword or a wooden plug driven into the blowhole. Dating as far back as 10,000 B. C. indicate that even hand held harpoons were used for whaling in Japan. Japans Methods were not as humane as they are today, technology has come a far way over the centuries so the slaughtering of whales is up to fishery standards.

Whales are not hunted for only there meat, but also lamp oil, soap, fertilizer, folding fans and more. These products have been utilized within Japans culture for centuries, with no wastage of any stock they produce. At the turn of the 20th century, Japanese whaling got a slight boost with the introduction of steam ships and grenade-tipped harpoons. However, it wasn’t until 1934 that Japan expanded its whaling to Antarctica that the boost really started to show light. Whales helped keep Japanese citizens fed both during and after World War 2.

In 1947 whale meat made up almost half of all animal protein consumed by the country. Nearly 20 years later, whales continued to make up nearly one-quarter of the Japanese diet. The Meiji era, 1868-1912, saw the introduction of power-driven vessels with guns designed after the Norwegian style of whaling. However, Japanese fishermen opposed this practice, as they believed it promoted indiscriminate killing of whales. The early Japanese viewed whales as deities of the sea as well as being useful for corralling fish.

Many whaling villages built Whale Shrines, or Kujira Jinja, to worship the whales they hunted as gods. Whaling in Japan aimed to provide the Japanese people with as many resources, not just oil and animal protein, as possible. A famous proverb in Japan says, “There’s nothing to throw away from a whale except its voice. ” This is quite different from the American whaling of the past that was solely aimed to extract oils for the industry sector. As Japan entered into the 19th Century new rules and laws started to restrict Japans Cultural Whaling.

In 1982, Japanese whalers encountered a major obstacle. The International Whaling Commission introduced The moratorium in 1986. Japan finally complied after the US put pressure on them by not allowing them to fish in waters surrounding Alaska. Later on, the US went ahead with a complete and total ban on any foreign fishing vessels in Alaskan waters, and thus Japan began researching ways to restart commercial whaling under the jurisdiction of the IWC. Japanese whaling has been under the close eye of many different organizations that are active against whaling.

The Sea Shepard being one of the largest and most active companies out there. “Sea Shepherd Australia is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd Australia uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas.

By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced oceanic ecosystems, Sea Shepherd Australia works to ensure their survival for future generations. ” So the biggest question faced is the real reason as to why so many organizations are against whaling? The most obvious ones are the decreased numbers and the cruel methods. Whales do not threaten fish populations, and now that we have alternatives to whale products, killing them doesn’t create the money it used to. It is now more important to save them and let whale tourism to create the money.

One of the biggest arguments are the decreased number in whales, and the need to place them on the endangered species list. Some species, e. g. the Atlantic Gray Whales went extinct. Whale populations take a long time to recover. They only have one young in every two or three years, and it is way too early to say that the populations have recovered – they have not. Whales have returned to some oceans where they disappeared, but not nearly have their populations recovered.

Eminent Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery has stated that the sustainable hunting of “smaller brained” mammals such as Minke whales should not pose a problem to their survival as long as they are “killed as humanely as possible”. However, they don’t take the common minke whale, they take the antarctic minke whale, which is endangered. Despite a number of court rulings to the contrary Japanese whaling vessels continue to break International and Australian laws by conducting Whaling in our Southern Oceans and our Antarctica territories.

The Sea Shepherd group are opposed whaling and are conducting a campaign to harass the whaling boats in order to prevent the practice. This has led to several collisions between the Japanese whaling vessels and the Sea Shepherd ships; most recently the “Bob Barker” was damaged in a collision, in 2010 the “Andy Gil” was rammed and sunk by a Japanese whaling vessel and in January 2012 3 Australian activists were detained when they boarded a Japanese whaling ship. The actions of the group, however, have been very successful.

On April 12 2013 the “news talk” website reported that the Japanese Government “announced its whaling mission in the Southern Ocean was a “record low” this year, blaming “unforgivable sabotage” by activists. ” The Australian Government whilst privately supporting the actions of the Sea Shepherd group opposes direct intervention as called for by Bob Brown, Chairman of the Sea Shepherd group. Whilst the actions are said to be illegal, the Independent Media Centre of Australia is surprised that the government is strangely quiet about the activities of the Japanese and the Sea Shepherd.

Whilst it is clear the both government and Opposition politicians are opposed to the practice of whaling by the Japanese in our waters, and both agree that they are transgressing our laws, they have chosen to pursue legal solutions through the International Court of Justice and by making protests to the Japanese Government. In February 2013 the government lodged a protest with the Japanese Government when a whaling ship entered Australia’s exclusive economic zone near Macquarie Island.

It was reported that a minke whale was killed by the ship. Tony Burke, Australia’s environment minister told Sky news that it doesn’t matter where it happened, the actions of the whalers was “still illegal”. He went on to say that “It is total abuse from beginning to end, what Japan has been doing. ” So why does the Government oppose direct intervention such as using the Navy as suggested by Bob Browne? Much of it in my opinion lies with the delicate nature of international relations and Trade.

Japan is one of our major allies and trading partners. It may seem incongruous that when we march in Anzac day parades, championing our victory over Japan and imploring the inhumane treatment of our POW’s in Burma, that we now consider Japan such a good friend. Australia’s position in Asia and the importance of our trade means that we have to play the diplomatic game with our powerful ally. Opposition leader Tony Abbott has gone so far to state “We don’t like whaling.

We would like the Japanese to stop,”….. “On the other hand, we don’t want to needlessly antagonise our most important trading partner, a fellow democracy, an ally. ” We have to allow them to “save face” in that very Asian way of doing politics and business so that the Japanese politicians and satisfy their own people as well as seem to meet their international obligations. In this way our Government can keep good relations with Japan, however incongruous the process appears to be.

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