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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Hanshin cheers customers with whale meat promotion

Making the news both in Japan and abroad this week was a special sales promotion in central Japan.

Originally breaking the story was the Asahi newspaper's Kansai region edition, with the headline "Whale meat sold off at less than half-price Osaka - Hanshin department store".

"Blow away the recession!", starts the Asahi article.

The Yomiuri's online Osaka edition also ran the story with the headline, "Whale meat on sale at prices of 30 years ago"

"So as to make familiar the taste of whale meat, which sky-rocketed in price after the cessation of commercial whaling, Hanshin department store in Umeda, Osaka, commenced a sale at less than half the normal prices", says the Yomiuri. "Sale lasts until the 31st".

"It's precisely because of the economic gloom that we are selling the now-luxury foodstuff of whale meat at cheap prices", is the theme of the promotion. The store bought in a ton of Sei whale obtained through research whaling, and set prices at 248 yen / 100 g for red meat, and 420 yen for blubber, the same as about 30 years ago" (Yomiuri).

"From the 27th of January Hanshin department store started selling off Sei whale meat at less than half the normal price. Hanshin says it is precisely because of the bad economic situation that they want customers to eat whale meat at low prices , noting that whale has become a luxury food item. This was the first time that this store has run such a promotion. Prices are set to return to normal from the 1st of February".

"In Hanshin's sales area on the first floor below ground level, shoppers had their eyes fixed on the whale products. Items included meat (15 kg block, before being cut up), and long (90 cm) strips of blubber" (Asahi).

"As for the prices, they were said to be set at the same level as the early 1980's, before the cessation of commercial whaling and subsequent sky-rocket in prices."

The Asahi, like the Yomiuri, reports the precise price details.

A 65-year old housewife who bought whale for the first time in 10 years said "I'll enjoy the nostalgic taste" (Asahi). A similar customer, definitely the same lady, is quoted by the Yomiuri: "I often ate whale for school lunch, but recently it's become too expensive and I couldn't buy it. This evening I hope to enjoy this as sashimi."

The story later appeared in the Asahi's national edition online, and the picture of the sales area even made the "top picture" in the Asahi news headlines that automatically stream into my mobile phone every 30 minutes.

* * *

Later in the foreign media, an AFP story appeared.

Basically the story is the same as the Japanese version, although interestingly the AFP journalist comes at the matter from a different angle:
"Mr Matsui did not comment on whether the store had been losing money before starting the offer but said sales have more than doubled since the prices were cut on Tuesday."
It's not clear whether the journalist was referring the the sales of the store in general, or whale meat sales in particular, but if it were the latter and the journalist is wondering whether the whale meat sales were making money, it's hard to imagine why the store would do something like buy in a ton of extra of the product just so they could sell it off at less than half price! Sometimes it's a mystery what these foreign journalists are smoking.

But that was nothing - an Italian site also ran a story, but the original theme in the Japanese story is lost completely:

"Japan: Crisis, whale meat half price", reads the headline (the original site uses upper case letters, seemingly for "effect")
"The economic crisis is truly hitting all sectors, and even Japan's passion for whale meat has been effected."
Right from the outset the article is off the mark. The Japanese stories and even the AFP story report that the store operator is looking to use the limited offer whale meat promotion to brighten up their customers.
"The main shopping centre in Osaka has decided to put whale meat on sale at half price"
This much is correct...
... " in spite of criticisms from many countries who believe that Japan should respect the international ban on whale hunting."
There is no reason why domestic private sector retail promotions should take in to consideration the international situation with regards to whaling. Japanese people also eat beef without respect for what non-beef eating cultures think. It is strange that the Italian article author would expect Japanese retailers to behave as certain foreigners would wish, rather than as they the Japanese themselves wish to.
"Instead of adhering to the moratorium set by the International Whaling Commission, Japanese authorities continue to avoid it justifying whale hunting with a vague "scientific research" explanation. Now they have decided to cut prices, trying to increase consumption of the precious meat."
It wasn't the authorities that decided to sell the meat at cut prices, it was a private retail outlet operator, and the reason they bought in the ton of meat and put it on sale was to brighten (and probably lure) customers. The only link between "Japanese authorities" and Hanshin department store is that both are ... Japanese.
"A move that is in contrast to official reasoning, explaining that traditionally in Japan, whale meat is eaten by common people."
Despite getting the story wrong, the article spouts this nonsense as well. It's obvious to any calm thinking, rational person that normal trends in whale meat retail will not hold while Japan continues to abide by the IWC's commercial whaling moratorium.
"The manager of the Osaka shopping centre, Tadashi Matsui, has decided to sell 100 grams of whale meat for 248 yen, of just over 2 euro, compared to its full price of 630 yen or 5 euro. Greenpeace estimates that Japan hunts hundreds of whales per year, the rest are hunted by Norway and Iceland."
Greenpeace "estimate" the figures, which are publicly available at the IWC's website in through other public sources, to give the impression that Japan is conducts it's research programmes in secret. On the contrary, the quotas are announced and actual numbers taken are released as well. It hardly takes skill or special knowledge to estimate figures that are already in the public domain!

So welcome once again to the wacky world of the foreign anti-whaling media. It's amazing how far a story can be twisted when some journalists have been instilled with certain preconceptions and misinformation. The reference in the article to Greenpeace seems to be indicative of the reason for the gross inaccuracy of this article.

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My comment is slightly off topic , but really horrific and terrible.

Scandinavian media featured the goose down industry this weekend , and a socio-political program / docu showed terror images from a goose down farm in Hungary.

Living animals are plocked ?? ( is this the right English word) on their feathers still alive , and the procedure is carried out 4 timed before the goose is brought to slaughter.

Anguish screams from tortured animals are filling the down farms. The practice is carried out mainly in China, Russia , Hungary and Poland.

Today retailers didn't hardly sell any down jackets etc at all.

What is amazing is that retailer Patagonia , on its website states that they partly buy down from farms with living geese!!!! And this Patagonia supports Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd. Actually , the practice with using down is so terrible that one might reconsider to buy fur products from animals living and killed in the wild ( such as Greenland seal products).

See video ( from Swedish and Norwegian media) : ( Warning very strong images) :


Unfortunately the video might have bad quality bad you can still listen.
"Slightly off topic"???
This has NOTHING to do with the topic at hand.
Is it not enough to peddle animal porn on your own site but you have to indulge in cluster bomb propagandizing now?
Exactly how you make the leap from goose down to Greenland seal pelts is just beyond me.
Too much coffee this morning Ann?
" Too much coffee this morning , Ann" - IceClass

Actually for starters I start my day with stronger stuff than coffee:)!

The first thing I do in the morning is taking crack, Valium, mood elevators, uppers and downers, morphine, pain killers , acid and heroin , to make myself through the day :)))!
Yup, it shows.
Stick to coffee, you might make more sense.
All of these topics are disgusting!! Eating magnificent mammals like whales because it's a delicacy of the rich is pure evil. Torturing geese for their feathers is evil. AND saying that the alternative to use fur might be better is purely STUPID!! Do you know how seals are killed? If you're concerned with keeping warm, fatten up on rice or grass or drop dead. Do not promote one kind of animal torture over another!
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