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2011-06-25

Book Review

1) “Dissecting the Whaling Controversy”* (in Japanese)
Edited by Atsushi Ishii, with articles by Junko Sakuma, Ayako Ohkubo, Yasuhiro Sanada and Phillip J. Clapham. “Shinhyoron” 2011
http://www.shinhyoron.co.jp/cgi-db/s_db/kensakutan.cgi?j1=978-4-7948-0870-7
Hogeironsou_2

Here are a few excerpts illustrating typical Japanese attitudes to the anti-whaling movement.

“This book aims, to re-examine the whaling debate, ‘not from the point of view of any of the political parties, but from the stance of an ombudsman monitoring forces in society’.
“The reason this is necessary is that almost every Japanese publication about the problem address the problem as a battle between two antithetical forces, the pro-whalers and the anti-whalers.
“In documents written by government representatives to the IWC and the like, whaling is viewed from a polarized perspective of the Good against the Bad; the pro-whalers against the protesters, a perspective widely shared.” (p68).

“A 2001 survey reported that 75% of the Japanese agreed with whaling under proper scientific supervision, as long as it did not affect the stocks of the resource.
  “However, even though Japan’s supply of whalemeat is enough for only 40 grams per person per year, unsold stocks have continued to accumulate since 2000. The reason for people’s supporting whaling obviously does NOT spring from their desire to eat whalemeat. There is a large sector of people who, while having no particular concern either way, have reacted to foreign criticism and become something different; the “anti-anti-whaling” faction.” (p148)

“This is the result of a successful mass-media campaign started in 1972 by the JWA (Japan Whaling Association) to portray whalemeat as national cuisine, and “Whaling Culture” as a Japanese tradition.” (pp.170-2).

“The Japanese media reports on the 2005 meeting of the IWC consisted of nothing more than edited versions of the government’s briefings. Most Japanese journalists see the IWC as merely a battleground for pro- and anti-whaling bodies, and believe that the government’s stance against the anti-whaling faction is for the good of the nation.” (p.178)

(There are, however, a few journalists and NGOs who are prepared to criticise national policy as expounded by Keidanren and the various ministries.)

Finally, this book points out that there is a kind of “whaling club”, centred on MAFF’s ICR and the whaling company “Kyodo Senpaku”, whose members are endeavouring to protect their own vested interests by escalating the confrontation with anti-whaling nations, raising the issue of research whaling to a higher level as a symbol of nationalism.

The authors note that some foreign politicians, in countries where whaling is frowned on, use criticism of whaling countries as a tool to raise support, while some anti-whaling organizations are raising considerable income from donations. (p283)

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*“Dissecting the Whaling Controversy: ”『解体新書「捕鯨論争」』“Kaitai Shinsho: Hogei Ronsou:
“Kaitai Shinso” is the name of a historic anatomy treatise and has been borrowed for the title of many publications which aim to “dissect” something.  

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  “This book describes arguments against whaling under the three topics of animal welfare, animal rights and the “precautionary principle”. (p54) The function of JWCS falls under the third heading. While the current media atmosphere strongly reflects the “opposing poles” perspective, JWCS is working to raise awareness of whaling as an aspect of protecting the marine ecosystem.
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2) “Whaling in Japan: power, politics and diplomacy” (in English)
by Jun Morikawa (JWCS Director)
Columbia University Press, 2009
Preview here: http://tinyurl.com/MorikawaJ-WIJ

Morikawa


JWCS   Kilie Suzuki / Translation:JWCS Volunteer staff   Simon Varnam

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