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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



IWC 62 comes and goes

IWC 62 has come and gone, and as I think most expected, the IWC was unable to come to any agreements on really controversial issues, although the Greenlanders successfully managed to get permission to strike 9 humpbacks a year for the next three.

IWC 62 documents are here, now including several uploaded during the course of the meeting. The following are some of interest
The Netherlands document regarding safety at sea bizarrely commences with the statement "the Netherlands remains resolute in its opposition to any type of whaling, except for aboriginal subsistence whaling" (sic), a point that is irrelevant to issues of safety at sea, which the Netherlands itself regards as being a matter for the IMO.

The document goes on to note that the Netherlands respects the right of peaceful protest. (Don't we all.)

The Netherlands then reprimands not only Sea Shepherd but also the "Japanese whalers", despite it being obvious to anyone that Sea Shepherd is voyaging to the Antarctic for the express purpose of attacking the other vessels (with guns, lasers, glass bottles of acid, propeller foulers etc), under the flag of the Netherlands. None of this can seriously be described as "peaceful protest" by any thinking person. Furthermore, that Sea Shepherd itself frequently refuses to be called a protest organization seems to be lost on the Dutch. Or otherwise to "save face" the Dutch have simply opted to overlook this inconvenient inconsistency in their rhetoric.

Nonetheless, the Netherlands notes some excuses why they have failed to handle Sea Shepherd appropriately to date. The international community will likely be watching closely.

As for the meeting, Richard Black from the BBC has a piece here with comments from the Japanese representative:
"Of course, if it was indeed the case that zero had to be the number for proper management of the whale stock - if it was in a critical situation - then of course Japan would agree that it had to be brought down to zero," said Ms Funuyama (sic).

"However, we do have evidence that the whale stock is sustainable if it is contained under a certain level of catch, and therefore we fail to understand why it has to be brought down to zero."

The answer given by Japan's opponents is that its fleet ought to leave the Southern Ocean not because the current level of hunting is unsustainable, but because the area has been declared a whale sanctuary.

Yet, it is the "southern ocean sanctuary", and the "moratorium" before it, which are the primary symptoms of the diseased IWC. If Japan's opponents are not arguing that the current level of hunting is unsustainable, then they have essentially conceded that the moratorium and sanctuary both lack the scientific basis that Article V of the ICRW requires they have.

The claim that Japan was to blame for failure in the talks - widely promulgated by environment groups - was dismissed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the former New Zealand Prime Minister who played a leading role in diplomacy here.

"I was in the middle of this, and I think that's absolutely false," he said.

"The luxury about NGO positions is they don't actually know what is going on.

"The truth of the matter is there was considerable flexibility shown on both sides - just not quite enough."

Sir Geoffrey's comments are indicative of the strategy employed by the anti-whaling nations within the whaling commission, which is something like as follows:
Japan's government and much of it's media appear (at least on the surface) to be naive and oblivious to this reality, although many Japanese citizens understand the situation all too well.

Alternatively, perhaps the Japanese government recognises the situation, but simply hasn't been able to think of or execute a suitable counter strategy. Given the weakness of Japanese political leadership, this is very much a possibility.

The most promising opportunity that the Japanese and other whalers have is the arbitration that the whale-mad Australians have recently decided to initiate at the International Court of Justice - despite objections from legal experts in other nations such as New Zealand, but most notably the USA government.

The opportunity for Japan to have it's case assessed in a court presents a significant chance to deal a serious blow to the anti-whaling camp - presuming Australia continues to push the case to a conclusion (of which I remain very skeptical, given inter alia US opposition to the move).

... but in the meantime, bon appetite, fellow whale lovers!


I think this article is VERY INTERESTING!
Yes indeed. I left you a comment already :)
I counted at least 10 outright lies and falsehoods, and about another ten total exaggerations in this pro-whaling puff piece.
I counted at least 10 outright lies and falsehoods, and about another ten total exaggerations in this pro-whaling puff piece.
On second thoughts, I was wrong. Please ignore my pointless comments.
Thanks for your blog, David.
As usual, you hit the nail on the head and write in a poignant way.
Thanks for the updates!

I think Japan's lack of action and conviction is also exactly why SS target them. Any other country would've already sent the Navy or Coast Guard down and dealt with them like the Norwegians, Faroe Islands, Canada, etc. have.

What do you think of recent hints that Japan is at least considering leaving IWC?
Yes, I think the Japanese approach to dealing with SS ought to be revisited. The battle of the tactics doesn't resolve the problem, but it is good to see that aggressive Mr. Bethune was brought back for trial. Hopefully the judge will see fit to give him a sentence so that he has more time to reflect on whether SS's violence is appropriate.

As for Minister Yamada's comments, while they give a little hope it's still too early to get excited about it, in my opinion. The Japanese government has said similar things before and never followed up with action.

So first, we need to see some action from the Japanese government. I believe the Norwegians and Icelanders plus others would welcome such moves to have it recognised by whaling nations that the IWC is no longer an appropriate international organization to be dealing with.

But secondly, the anti-whalers when they see this will probably criticise the whaling nations for not wanting to belong to the anti-whaling IWC any longer, and possibly beg the Japanese to stay at the IWC table with promises of extra effort to find a solution. Japan's government needs to recognise the true intentions of such approaches.

This is where I am concerned. A lot of Japanese don't understand the irrational reality of the IWC. Even with this latest IWC meeting, Funeyama who was attending the IWC for the first time said at her press conference with Nakamae that she'd told him before that she reckoned the IWC would accept Japan's position if they understood it properly. So she had been thinking that Japan's representatives hadn't been doing a good job of explaning Japan's position clearly. So, she turned up at the IWC meeting and started meeting and talking and listening to the anti-whaling delegates herself and finally understood what it's really all about.

This basic understanding of the IWC is lacking in Japan. Perhaps it's a language problem, a translation problem. I see this recently in editorials in newspapers here and there - suggestions about how Japan should remain at the IWC and keep persistently trying to negotiate a positive outcome, because Japan has been at it for so long it would be wrong to give up now, etc.

This thinking, while commendable, simply doesn't work with the IWC because of it's fundamental dysfunction. Japan's patience is a big part of why this problem persists, in my opinion. Japan should rightly have blown off the anti-whaling nations years ago but hasn't, and thus every year Japan allows itself to be played as a villain in the western media.

So the test for the Japanese government will be whether they can recognise the situation for what it is and continue to pursue the objectives of the ICRW outside of the dysfunctional IWC, without being suckered back into it again, in a perpetual, never ending cycle.

The problem is that whaling is a small issue, and thus making the dysfunction of the IWC clearly understood to the majority is a difficult thing.

But perhaps there are enough IWC failures now over the last decade to finally make it obvious to almost anyone that persisting to "negotiate", with those of have no intention of resolving the conflict in good faith in terms of the convention that binds the IWC together, is a big waste of resources.

No doubt we hear something about this one way or another over the next year, but in the meantime developments with Australia's baseless ICJ case should keep us amused.
David, you lack simple deductive capabilities. Supporting whaling is akin to supporting slavery. Truthfully, I just feel sorry for you.
Catching whales and slavery are starkly different.

That you draw such a comparison illustrates your disrespect for the people who suffered due to slavery.

Indeed it is me who feels sorry for you.
I think we can all agree that the IWC plenary has long been hijacked and turned into a Trade-Show for the anti-whale eating commercial protest industry.
As such it has exceeded its usefulness and the persecuted whale eaters should leave.
And if anyone is still under the misconception that Whale "Saving" is anything more than a lucrative exercise in branding: http://bit.ly/aIUldn
Do you think black slaves are akin to whales? You're full of ridiculous, outdated ideas. Whaling should be compared to hunting of wild animals such as boar, deer, kangaroo etc. Rather, slavery is similar to livestock farming in many ways.
good blog, thanks for this info :)
I never quite understood why some people 'personifies' whales and often equate them to humans. Do these people do the same with cows and pigs? Or for that matter, is there such thing as anti-meat-eating bloc as well (and just that they don't surface)? Or is it just a "whale thing"?

Sorry for my irrelevance, but I've always found it odd that when I hear anti-whaling comments they sound as though they really do feel that whales are humans. Never confirmed this myself with a real life campaigner, but I've heard quite a few comments in the past which made me think that.

Anyway thanks for this new entry, David. I rarely keep up with this industry so I'm always behind the news, but sometimes I find it difficult to grasp the logic behind the story. You remain to be a valuable source of rationale in all the hurley burley, so to speak.

I gather that, at least for the foreseeable future, there's no notable event scheduled which I should keep my eye on? (Australia's legal challenge aside)

Greetings from the UK.
Hi John, thanks for your comment.

That's how I feel about it - nothing worth watching as far as the IWC goes. Japan's officials will struggle to think of constructive ways to continue participating at this organization given this year's meeting, to my mind.

Australia's legal action is the main event now as far as I am concerned... and I have written half a post about it but not had time to complete it as of yet. Will probably give up and just post it in parts.
Ok, I thought so. I tend to see this as a minor issue, but at times it gets ridiculously bloated in the UK. Not quite sure how our society got to this point myself, but I suspect most of us dont really care. Just a passing matter which comes around like Christmas.

Thanks anyway, this subject is on my "visit seldom" list so not sure when I'll return but I'll come back to get your commentary when I hear something new. I should come more often really. Sorry but Im a busy man =/ We all are, I suppose!
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