Future policies for Japan’s Whale Research Program


[This translation is not official]

Future policies for Japan’s Whale Research Program: 
-  Remarks by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

April 18, 2014

A judgment has been made in the “Whaling in the Antarctic” case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and Japan has established the following future whaling policies. They are outcomes of the discussions on Japan’s future whaling policies based on international law and scientific grounds, from a stand point of sincerely addressing conservation and management of cetaceans .

1. Basic policy

The Judgment of the Court confirms that one of the purposes of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling is the sustainable use of cetacean resources. Taking account of which, Japan will, with the cooperation of the concerned government institutions, firmly maintain the basic principle that it should continue to conduct research whaling based on international law and scientific principles, for the collection of scientific information essential for management of cetaceans, with the aim of resuming commercial whaling. 

2. Policy for future whaling programs (after FY2015) in the Antarctic and the North-west Pacific

With regards to research whaling both in the Antarctic and in the North-west Pacific from FY 2015, the related ministries and agencies will make a closely coordinated effort to submit a new research program to the IWC’s Scientific Committee reflecting the conditions specified in the judgment by fall 2014.

In this effort, transparency will be ensured through the participation of distinguished scientists from Japan and overseas, discussion in IWC Scientific Committee workshops and coordination with related research programs.

With regard to illegal violence by anti-whaling organizations, which the Court labelled “regrettable sabotage activities”, the relevant agencies will discuss countermeasures suited to the new research plan, from a view point of ensuring the safety of the research fleet, researchers and crew.

3. Whale Research Program in 2014

1) Antarctic: To conform to the ICJ judgment, the Second Phase of the Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA II) will be cancelled.

2) North-west Pacific: In the light of the ICJ judgment, the Second Phase of the Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the North-west  Pacific (JARPN II) will be carried out on a reduced scale by, for example, limiting the research objectives.

3) In the formulation of the research program for FY2015, necessary measures will be introduced to conform to the objectives of the ICJ judgment, including feasibility evaluation of nonlethal research such as DNA sampling in the North-west Pacific.

*Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries  Hayashi Yoshimasa (LDP)

*Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary, the Government of Japan(March 31, 2014)

JWCS Volunteer staff: Junko Matsuoka, Simon Varnam

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Brief overview of Japan’s future policies for Research Whaling


[This translation is not official]

Brief overview of Japan’s future policies for Research Whaling

1.Basic Policy

・Japan will firmly maintain its policy that it should aim for resumption of commercial whaling, on the basis that cetaceans should be utilized as important food resources in a sustainable way on a scientific basis.

・Japan will conduct research whaling, building on the intent of the ICJ judgment.

2.Policy for future whaling programs after FY2015 in the Antarctic and the North-west Pacific

・Japan will submit and implement new plans for research whaling both in the Antarctic and the North-west Pacific to IWC Science Committee in 2015.

・Until new plans for research whaling are implemented, the government of Japan will consider drastic measures against obstruction by anti-whaling organizations.

3.Whale Research Program in 2014

・In the Antarctic, research whaling will not employ capture but only visual observation.

・In the North-west Pacific, research whaling for specific research objectives will be carried out in accordance with the following quotas.

・Investigations will be made into the possibilities of DNA sampling and other non-lethal research methods besides visual observation.


Coastal whaling Minke whale 120→About 100
Off-shore whaling Minke whale 100→0
Bryde's whale 50→About 20
Sei whale 100→About 90
Sperm whale 10→0

*Catch quotas will be finalized after close examination following hearings of scientists’ views.

JWCS Volunteer staff: Junko Matsuoka, Simon Varnam

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BOOK "Of Whales,Whaling and Whale Watching in Japan: A conversation"


Cognition,Culture,Conservation and Human Perceptions
Edited by philippa brakes and Mark Peter Simmonds
in2011 by earthscan



Of Whales,Whaling and Whale Watching in Japan: A conversation
 Jun Morikawa(JWCS Director) and Erich Hoyt

In 2009-2010 Jun Morikawa and Erich Hoyt embarked on a correspondence and then met to talk at length about the past,present and future of whales,whaling and whale watching inJapan.

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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

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)

*“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.  

  “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.

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


JWCS   Kilie Suzuki / Translation:JWCS Volunteer staff   Simon Varnam

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The Japan Fisheries Agency’s failure to differentiate between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd

In the September 2007 edition (No.435) of the ICR’s journal “Whaling Bulletin”(1), a former head of Antarctic research whaling, Hajimé Ishikawa(2) of the ICR (Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research, financially supported and effectively controlled by the JFA) labelled them both “eco-terrorists” and wrote “Though there may be a difference in severity between the activities of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd, in as far as they both use violent methods, endangering our research vessels and even the lives of our crews, there is no difference between them.

Though Greenpeace ceased operations in the Antarctic several years ago, the reason JFA continues to associate them with Sea Shepherd is not made clear.

In “The Greenpeace Story” (1989 /1991 Dorling Kindersley Limited, London) we read: “Greenpeace’s most public face, the one for which it is most well known, is “direct action”. It is this non-violent approach that has consistently marked it out from other environmental groups and one that has gained it press and television headlines around the world.” 

Few Japanese are familiar with the term “direct action” and tend to equate it with the “violent means” recently employed by Sea Shepherd.

(1)“Whaling Bulletin”; originally『鯨研通信』(Geiken Tsushin), http://www.icrwhale.org/pdf/gpandsea-geiken435.pdf
(2)Hajimé Ishikawa; 石川創

JWCS   Kilie Suzuki / Translation:JWCS Volunteer staff   Simon Varnam

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The Whaling Debate in Japan

JWCS Letter No.54 (February 2008)extracts and comments

In Japan, the debate on cetacean conservation centers on the question of whaling.

●”Do whales destroy the sea?”
The Japan Whaling Association(日本捕鯨協会)and the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) have produced leaflets saying that “Rising whale populations consume huge quantities of fish. If things continue this way, the marine ecosystem itself may be endangered.” (see picture) Moreover, the “whales as pests” stance has been used to justify the culling of minke whales.
 While manning JWCS booths at conservation events, we often meet people who truly believe that whales are pests. “It must be true; the government says so!” they say.
 We decided to clarify the matter and see whether the decline of coastal fisheries is due to an increase in whales. Using statistics from MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) we compared the variation in coastal fisheries catches and in coastal whaling since the pre-war days. (Graphs 1&2)
MAFF’s annual report, the “Fisheries White Paper”, attributed the increase of the fishery yield in the 60s to technological innovation during the rapid economic growth period and capital investment due to improved economic and social conditions. Later, they attributed the sharp drop in catches in the 90s to overfishing and a decrease in natural seashore habitat necessary for fry.
Japan started to catch fin and blue whales in coastal areas around 1900. Minke whaling started in about 1948, because large whales were no longer available.
The graph shows no evidence that the decrease in yield is “because whales ate the fish.”

●Are whales dishes really a Japanese tradition?
There are those who claim that “eating whales is Japanese traditional culture, so anti-whaling countries should respect our culture”. However, in the era when people rowed out in small boats to take whales with handheld harpoons, the catch was small and the regions where people ate whales limited. The boom in whale meat in Japan came after the introduction of “Norwegian whaling”, using steamships and harpoon-guns.
Under the Meiji government’s strategy to “enrich the nation and strengthen defenses”, the expansion of the whaling industry became national policy, and later, after WWII, whale meat gained further importance as a solution to the postwar food crisis. This is too short a period to justify calling it a tradition (graph 3). The nationwide consumption of whalemeat was not a matter of culture but of national policy.

Data of graph 1,2,3
“the Annual Statistics by WAFF Meiji 1(1868)~Syowa 28(1953)”
“the Statistics by WAFF ” “ the Chronological table of the harvest statistics about fisheries and aquacultures the harvest by the kinds of main fisheries and fishes”
(note) The data of whaling starts from1915.
Until 1950s sei whales and Bryde’s whales are confused. The number of outflow is also included.
Graph 2
The data of” the coastal whaling” includes the yield by whaling at Ogasawara base. Besides, the data until 1945 includes the yield in the expanded areas by the World War Ⅱ. Because the harvest except for “whaling” is included in the “marine mamma1s”, it is not included in this graph.


Graph 3
In every sea water, the number shows the total of blue whales, fin whales, humpback whales, sei whales, sperm whales, and minke whales.
The number of” the Antarctic Ocean” shows the harvest in the year of return after finishing fishing. In the data of” the North Pacific Ocean”, it is unsure that there was fishing in the fishing season between 1940 and 1941. The commercial whaling has been abandoned since between 1986 and 1987. The yields come from “the capture inspection of whaling in the Antarctic Ocean “between 1990 and1991. The numbers since 1994 come from “the capture inspection of minke whales in the North Pacific Ocean”.
(graphs made by Kirie Suzuki in JWCS)

references:”Fishery white paper” http://www.maff.go.jp/j/wpaper/index.html ” The annual report about the fishery current in Heisei 4 30years of our fishery” “The annual report about the fishery current in Heisei 11 The trend of fishery harvest and aquatic resources around our sea waters” “The annual report about the fishery current in Heisei 11 Whales eating much fishes beyond our imagination”. The white paper in Heisei 13 followed by IWC (International Whaling Commission) meeting at Simonoseki said that “eating by marine mammals “such as whales caused the decrease of aquatic resources.

JWCS Volunteer staff: Nobuko Ishizuka, Simon Varnam

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Whale Meat –rapidly increasing stocks and a huge potential stock Excluded Iceland’s Fin Whale in the Japanese National Survey

By Junko Sakuma (Dec 13, 2010)

Dolphin & Whale Action Network

○Stocks reach new peak at the end of October
This graph shows the monthly whale meat stocks from 1997 to October 2010 when stocks reached 5,525 tons, the largest since 1990. But there is more to this than meets the eye. The actual amount of unsold meat may be higher than these figures for 2010 seem to show. Let’s take a look at the background by comparing stock figures with production figures.
In 2006, the production of whale meat reached a peak at 5,333.8 tons (5,486.5 tons, if we include coastal whaling). At 1,542 tons more than the previous year’s take, it was natural for stocks to increase, a fact which drew attention to the question of how the stock would fall this year, an indication of the demand for whale meat in Japan.
In 2010, production was the lowest since 2004 at 3,620.4 tons (3,802.7 tons with CW), 826 tons less than the previous year. However stocks were the highest for 20 years.
As the stock assessment covers only refrigerated warehouses above a certain size, it is possible for stock to be moved from small sites not covered to those covered, causing an apparent but unreal increase. We cannot simply say the stock has increased.

○Hidden stocks?
1 The number of the refrigeration facilities covered has decreased.

The figures from the survey do not give the whole picture of this (2010) year’s stocks. The number of refrigeration facilities covered has been greatly reduced since January 2010.
The graph is based on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) “Monthly Statistics, Major Marine Products” which records the marine product stocks in the major refrigeration facilities in Japan.
In January 2010, management of the survey changed from MAFF to the Fisheries Agency, while the number of the facilities surveyed was reduced by almost a quarter, from 651 to 500. The chain of continuous data has been broken. However, in one month, December 2009, both authorities assembled their own statistics. In the graph, the dashed line shows revised quantities based on both surveys. The number of facilities covered decreased by 23% while whale meat stocks decreased by 3.9%. It is strange that while the number of facilities covered decreased so much, the total stocks decreased so little. Perhaps the excluded 151 facilities held little whale meat, in which case they would hardly affect the survey. However, had the number of surveyed facilities remained the same at 651, the stock in August 2010 should have exceeded 6,000. To put it another way, the whale meat held at the 150 omitted facilities may accurately be called “hidden stock”.

○ Hidden stocks?
2 Icelandic whale exports

This year there is another potential hidden stock: Icelandic finwhale.
According to Icelandic trades statistics, about 760 tons of frozen finwhale meat had been exported to Japan as of October 2010. On the other hand, Japanese figures show that Japan imported only 160 tons. Where is the other 600 tons? There are three possibilities:
1. Though officially exported it is still held in Iceland’s bonded warehouse.
2. It is still en route and hasn’t arrived in Japan, or has been temporarily offloaded in a third country.
3. It is waiting for custom clearance in a Japanese bonded warehouse.
These are the second “hidden stock”, not included in the trade statistics.

It is expensive to keep the stock in bonded warehouses. Japanese traders would surely want to clear Customs and sell it as soon as possible, but for some unknown reason the import procedure is delayed.
The news of the import of Icelandic whale meat has been reported only by Kyodo News Service but the meat is already available in the Japanese market. Search the internet for the Japanese words for “Icelandic” AND “Fin whale” (アイスランド産 AND ナガスクジラ), and you can find numerous mail order outlets.

○Failure to stimulate latent demand in the Japanese market

A severe interpretation of the situation suggests that changing the number of facilities covered in the statistics and delaying custom clearance are deliberate subterfuges to reduce the apparent size of whale meat stocks.
At the very least, the government’s creation of a situation where the continuity of data is lost creates distrust.
Though the change was promoted as a cost-saving device its true effect is to conceal data, an obstacle to freedom of information, and a form of censorship.

Title: Whale meat stocks


[bar graph]
red line: monthly totals
blue dashed line: estimated totals
green: volume from JARPA (Antarctic Research Whaling)
blue: volume from JARPN (NW Pacific Research Whaling)

Source: MAFF (~Dec 2010) /Fisheries Agency (Jan 2011~) “Monthly Statistics for Major Marine Products”, ICR Annual report, press releases, etc., and press sources.
Produced by Junko Sakuma 2011/12/13

“Frozen Marine Products Statistics” (in major domestic facilities)

Until 2009, the Japanese government designated 41 areas as “production areas” and 14 as “consumption areas” and recorded the stocks of large scale refrigeration facilities there. The survey was estimated to cover 40% of the whole stocks. In 2008 the survey covered 670 facilities and dropped to 651 in 2009. In 2010 the number was further reduced to 500. Based on these data, I compared the 2009 data with that from 2010 and calculated the ratio of the old figures to those of the new (for whale meat) as 100 : 96.1. The estimates for the real 2010 figures were calculated using the ratio. These are shown as a dashed line. The estimated amount as of October is 5,750 tons. This is the largest since 1990.
N.B. The Japan Association of Refrigerated Warehouses has 3,378 registered refrigeration facilities, 2,676 of which are capable of storage below minus 20˚ Celsius.

JWCS Volunteer staff: Chikako Yamasaki, Simon Varnam

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