Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
I mentioned recently
that Japan might make clear it's intentions regarding the import of Icelandic and Norwegian whale products once the situation with the IWC has been cleared up.
Well, I was wrong there, as has widely been reported in both the Western and Japanese media. Whale products from Iceland and Norway were said to have already arrived in Japan, although the paperwork to complete the import appears yet to be finalized.
Ministry of Agriculture officials noted that there is no legal problem with the import of whale meat from Iceland and Norway, although they noted that had not received any import request. At a press conference
, one reporter asked the vice-minister whether the Ministry would tell the media if such an import request were received. The official responded that such a transaction is a matter between private entities in different states, and he did not think it necessary to announce to the media every single such matter.
The Daily Suisan Keizai newspaper apparently ran an article on the topic, with some interesting points:
- When importing whale meat, the import procedure includes DNA checking (to keep a track of legal sources of whale meat), some kind of food checks, and apparently approval from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, including certification for the country of origin etc, is required, making the customs procedure a slightly time consuming affair.
- Kyodo Senpaku (KS) was also contacted for comment, as they are currently in charge of sales of Japan's research whaling by-product meat. KS noted that they weren't aware of the import, but recognised the import as a sign that whale meat is a normal kind of food in these European countries as well. Finally they noted that once the import is formally confirmed by the government that if there is a request to assist in sales that they would like to do so. These comments were apparently made by a Mr. Tajirou Tsurumoto who is a director at KS.
- Someone from the Icelandic embassy made similar comments to Japanese officials, with respect to the matter being one between private entities, although the official also noted that they were interested in observing the matter to see what happens.
(a copy of the article was posted here
At this stage, there is still only 60 ~ 80 tons of meat, according to the reports, so this won't have a huge impact on whale meat stockpile statistics, at least at this point in time.
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Update 6/19 to add some links.
Labels: Iceland, Norway, whale meat market, whale meat trade