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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #146: July 10, 2003

Japan Whalers Are Ones Feeling Endangered

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Japan Whalers Are Ones Feeling Endangered"
(By HANS GREIMEL, Associated Press Writer) Guardian,1280,-2888821,00.html


The article reports that whaling in Japan for the season has begun, and that the first hunt was processed in the town of Wada.

Some people may take it as an offence and perhaps would want to cite the discussions at the recent International Whale Committee meeting in Berlin. Others, while seemingly a minority in the current 'civilized' world, might image from the report a fishing village far from the noise of civilization, attending the chores of the time of the year the way their ancestors have done through generations.

Japan proposes relaxation of the severe restriction now in effect on whaling upon analysis of scientific data and suggests operating under close monitoring. It has never based its argument on cultural or ethnic grounds. Japan considers whales to be a part of marine resources, and though the terminology may be new, it has in fact been considered such by Japanese people for centuries.

The US and Canada insist certain whales should be allowed to be caught, to preserve the cultural heritage, as they say, of certain native peoples. This is obviously a double standard. One of the main reasons the adversaries bring up in their argument against whaling is based on the notion that whales are intelligent animals and therefore it is cruel to kill them. Without getting into the argument of cows and pigs, it is difficult to recognize the logic behind the claim that killing based on a culture is legitimate but as a resource is cruel. How can that be explained to the whales? As a consequence, in the present civilized world, killing for food and utilizing the leftover as a commodity to trade with other goods to sustain livelihood is considered evil, while killing for festivals and toy with the remains so as to provide grounds for claiming that it is 'not for sale' is recognized as a sacred act.

While in many ways it is probably the correct approach for Japan to promote its ideas based on the argument of resources rather than cultures, there is still undeniable implication to whaling in various parts of Japan in terms of culture and heritage.

Wada, as introduced in the article, is located at the Southeastern edge of Boso Peninsula. It is only a little more than 30 kilometers from Tokyo as the crow flies, but it could easily take more than three hours by car even after spending 40 dollars or so for highway tolls to smooth the trip.

Technically dubbed as a town, the settlement is more aptly described as a fishing village. Tourists flock the nearby beaches during summer, but there is certain level of resemblance to, say, St. John's, that define it to be a fishing (or whaling) settlement.

Trip to Wada during winter would perhaps provide for a good environment to refresh your thoughts on environment, in which we all, not just you, live in.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications