Whaling Under a Disguise


In Tokyo, Japan, a raw Whale sashimi (thinly sliced) or a Whale tempura is said to costs about 980 Yen. Soy sauce, steaming bowl of rice, bacon are all extra delights with the dish. Kids enrolled in Japanese public school have reasons to be happy, because they get to eat Whale dishes. The fisheries agency in Japan, in 2013 even treed to double its distribution of Whale meat to school programs. According to some reports, 100 metric tons of Whale meats are served to Japanese school per year. The Ministry of Education says that these dishes meet the national nutritional standards, set for children. The fisheries agency feels that Whaling is one of Japan’s old traditions. It also says other countries do not have the right to comment on our food culture. Yeah, it’s right. Each country has its own food culture, but Japanese’ fast consumption of Whale is making it into one of earth’s endangered species.


All the countries are brutally treating the animals, grown for meat, but none of the giant meat industries say that, ‘I am killing these animals for a scientific purpose.’ Japan has a long-standing controversial whaling program, which points out the necessity of hunting Whales for the uses of scientific research. What kind of a science is it to kill more than 3,500 hump-back Whales in a span of 8 years? The IWC (International Whaling Commission) in 1986 forbade Whaling for commercial purposes.  Japan circumvented this law by carrying it under the name of “scientific research.” Since IWC, has given power to the countries themselves for permitting ‘scientific Whaling’, the government has joyously issued its own permit to conduct Whaling. The authorities also claimed that they are selling meat commercially, only to fund the research.

In 2009, a Japanese fisheries official issued a statement, saying that their government is spending 2.3 billion yen from its auxiliary budget for tsunami reconstruction, which in turn funds the annual whaling hunt in the Antarctic Ocean. The officials supported this move and commented that it could help some of the devastated Whaling towns. Conservationist groups like Greenpeace blamed this funding move and many protests took place claiming that it was an act of siphoning money away from disaster victims. A Year later, in May 2010, the Australian government accused Japan of violating the International Whaling program and took this matter to UN. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), few days back, ruled that the Whaling programme was a commercial activity disguised as science. In a 12-4 vote, Japan lost its control of Antarctic whaling. After ICJ’s decision, Japanese officials decided to halt next Antarctic hunt, which was slated to start in late 2014.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government would abide by the court ruling, and also added that “it was a pity and I am deeply disappointed.” While it’s a huge victory for conservationists, the ruling doesn’t mean that it’s the end of whaling. Japan can continue its Whale ‘research’ North Pacific and around its coast. Legal experts are trying to redesign the whaling programme to jump around this ICJ ruling. Also, the last season of Antarctic Whaling has only finished recently.  Whale meat supply is not going to plummet in Japan, since there is a huge stock pile, and for the last few years, due to heavy protests there has been a sharp fall-off in the consumption. They also have the option of buying it from countries like Iceland or Norway to keep it from disappearing from the market.

The ICJ ruling may not altogether stop whaling, bit it sets an important precedent in the hunting of endangered animals (in the name of research).

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