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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 2005: Loser animal rights group to appeal

Remember how the Australian Federal government filed a submission against proposed court action by an "animal rights" group, which saw the case dismissed?

Well, unlike the Australian government, the "animal rights" group hasn't figured out that everything the Japanese are doing is perfectly legal and that their case is a loser. They've decided to appeal the decision against them.

Prediction: The full bench of the Federal court will also dismiss the case. This group is acting on emotion, not on substance.


IWC 2005: NZ Greens keep on politicking

Greens call on MPs to join the anti-whaling cause

How silly. The Greens are of the "belief" that the Japanese are more likely to give up whaling if MP's from all political parties put their signatures on a letter from the Greens to the Japanese.

The Greens ought to have realised by now that the Japanese aren't making their decisions based on what New Zealand politicians and other anti-whaling culture fascists have to say. Just as New Zealand wouldn't stop farming cows if the whole billion+ population of India requested us nicely.

This is just a pathetic attempt by the Greens to get a headline. The Greens, having lost their single issue of the GE Moratorium at the last election desperately need an issue that'll capture the minds of the New Zealand voters before the upcoming election.

That they've come up with this boring tired "letter to Japan" shows that they are devoid of ideas. Hopefully this year is their last in the NZ parliament.


IWC 2005: Anti-whalers dwindling in numbers

It seems the "world" (as the Anti-whalers often describe themselves - Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and to an extent the U.S.A.) is starting to accept that sustainable whaling is here to stay.

In Norway, the government has decided to cancel the contract of a lobbyist they had employed to put across the whaling side of the argument to the good people of the U.S.A.

The reason?

These days the Norwegians are hearing hardly any complaints about their commercial whaling activities, so don't see the need to have anyone explain their position anymore.

In Japan, the story is positive, but still not quite as rosy. With the initial stages of IWC 2005 underway, Japanese officials have expressed confidence that much of the rest of the world is coming round to Tokyo's way of thinking.

"We're looking forward to something good coming out of the Ulsan (venue for IWC 2005) meeting and although there are still some difficulties ahead, the number of countries that support the sustainable utilisation of whales accounts for almost half of the IWC's members," said Hideki Moromuki, of the ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries' whaling division.

"Our ultimate purpose is, of course, the resumption of commercial whaling, and although I don't know if we will be able to achieve that in Ulsan, we have a lot of support on the issue of marine resources and I'm sure we will achieve our aim soon."



IWC 2005: "Booming" humpback population reported in NZ too

"Humpback whale numbers in some parts are increasing quite strongly. We're looking at eastern Australia and western australia they're increasing about 10% each year," - Doc spokesperson

Good on the NZ news media for having the guts to report this figure.

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IWC 2005: Informed Australians?

Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell (who I've passed comment on before) is off to Europe in an attempt to try to convince other farm based nations that hunting whales is bad, under all circumstances.
"Australia is of the clear, informed view that whaling under scientific permits should be rejected: it is unnecessary, and nothing less than commercial whaling in disguise."

I don't know where Campbell got the idea that Australia was at all informed, especially if he believes a loss making scientific whaling operation running for 18 years is a commercial endeavour.

Campbell could only claim to be informed if he were able to understand that scientific whaling is NOT commercial whaling - it is a necessary precursor to ensure that future management decisions (for commercial whaling purposes) are based on ample scientific data.

The Japanese are quite open about their desire to recommence commercial whaling. They need to have scientific data for this to be possible. The Commercial Moratorium was imposed under concern that insufficient data was available to be able to make good management decisions.

Now that the Japanese are providing this, Australia is shifting the goal posts - or rather - admitting that they don't even want to have any goal posts.

Australia is a nation with no honour. It's time they got their dirty fingers out of the IWC.

UPDATE: This from the Japanese embassy in Australia:
"Neither Japan nor Australia wish to see whale populations threatened. However, Japan believes that if scientific research establishes certain whale populations can be harvested sustainably, then such whaling should be permitted".

It's clear that the Japanese are being more than reasonable on this issue. Australia and it's few anti-whaling mates need to recognise that the Australian perception of abundant whale stocks as "not food" doesn't hold true in other cultures around the world.



IWC 2005: Japan fights back

Often threatened by the anti-whalers with sanctions, the Japanese ambassador has warned the whaling issue could damage relations between the two countries.

This is a clever retort. It is an empty threat - but it makes the point that Australia should not presume that it can dictate terms to the Japanese. Australia, like the USA, is becomming less relevant to the Japanese economy along with the growth of China.

There's little doubt that if relations ever did sour over this issue (unlikely - it's just politics afterall), that Australia would suffer far more than Japan.


IWC 2005: Anti-whalers need to open their eyes

Japan is considering leaving the IWC unless the IWC can show that it has the ability to carry out it's stated functions within the next two years.

The anti-whaling nations need to pull their heads in. If they seriously want to have a say on whaling issues, they need to acknowledge that they aren't going to be able to bully Japan into submission.

It's time for the anti-whalers to accept that recent western cultural trends aren't necessarily going to take place in countries where whales have traditionally been utilised for food.


IWC 2005: New Zealand "scientists" join in the deception

New Zealand scientists have over the years contributed little constructive information with regards to the ICRW's requirements that signatories promote research to enhance understanding of whale stocks, with the aim of making possible the "orderly development of the whaling industry".

Scott Baker of Auckland University is one such "scientist". Funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), an "environmental" group that draws millions of dollars in anti-whaling donation, Baker claims that
"Humpback whales throughout much of the South Pacific have shown little sign of recovery to their former abundance, despite claims to the contrary by some Japanese scientists."

This is despite "Dr" Baker's fellow researchers in Australia having recognised that the Humpback population in the region is "booming".

He also attempts to make out that:
"Japan plans to resume hunting of both species in defiance of the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary”

"Dr" Baker is certainly in a position to be aware of the provisions of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which explicitly allow lethal hunts for scientific purposes. To talk of "defiance" is a nonsense - Article VIII existed since the beginning.

He also adds that “Japan's irresponsible plans to hunt these same whales during their migration to feeding grounds in waters around the Antarctic could undermine local recovery."

"Dr" Baker should do his maths. The numbers of whales Japan is proposing to take is well within the 10% annual rate of population growth that Australian researchers have observed. So just how are these plans "irresponsible", and how could they "undermine local recovery" to a degree worth worrying about?

That "Dr" Baker is prepared to have such comments attributed to his name makes it clear that he is nothing but a mouthpiece for the IFAW, who in part fund his livelihood. His comments could easily have been taken directly from the IFAW's homepage.

If "Dr" Baker wants to be taken seriously, he should stick to his science, rather than wade into the political side of the debate. Of course, if he did that the IFAW might not feel so inclined to fund him any longer... everyone has to make a living for themselves somehow though, don't they :-)


IWC 2005: Anti-whalers lose their first legal battle

Amusingly, the anti-whalers have lost their first legal battle not to the whalers, but to themselves! The Australian government has rejected an attempt by an "animal rights" group to take legal action against the Japanese whalers:

"The Australian Government has the view that the attempt to enforce the EPBC Act (to stop the killing of whales) may upset the diplomatic status quo ... and may be contrary to Australia's long term national interests"

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said in the submission that the Government had no right to enforce its law on Japan because it did not recognise Australia's claim of territorial sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Let there be no doubt - when it comes to attempting to score cheap political points, Australia (and other "anti-whaling" governments) will do so everytime, but when the time for meaningful action arises, they do nothing.
It's because they know they wrong, and the whaling nations are right.



IWC 2005: Australians fail to score

Things are warming up nicely for another typical fest of madness and loopiness at IWC 2005.

A few days back the Australian Environment Minister had a column of his posted here.
The Minister (Ian Campbell, to name names) ...
- talks about "fears" the lives of whales are "in danger". Sheez Ian. How do you think the cows and sheep feel? Grow a heart!

- laments the reality that the International community doesn't recognise Australia's claim over large amounts of Antartic waters

- talks about his evil master plan to disrupt Japanese whaling plans:
"The best chance Australia has of stopping the JFA from pursuing its plans is by removing an outdated loophole in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling that allows for so-called "scientific" whaling."
Sorry Ian, but it's no use trying to claim that Article VIII is a loophole in the ICRW - it has been a part of the ICRW right since the beginning back in the 1940's - unlike the commercial whaling moratorium which was only agreed to in 1982. Nor is it possible to "remove" Article VIII from the ICRW. It's in the document that Australia put their signature on - if Australia doesn't like the rules, it should just get out, as is their right to do so.
And if that's Australia's "best chance", why not just admit Australia has NO chance, and that this is all just a political stunt to impress domestic voters.

Notes that "sales of whale meat produced by scientific whaling amount to more than $60 million a year", but fails to mention that the $60 million is put back into funding the research programs, and is also significantly less money than groups such as Greenpeace receive in anti-whaling donations each year. While Greenpeace and co are regarded as "not for profit", apparently Japanese research whaling which generates far less revenue and runs at a loss is "commercial whaling in disguise". Good try though Ian! All of this, and not to mention the fact that Japan needs to make good use of the whale meat or be found in breach of the ICRW...

- starts to wind up with this cracker: "
This is full-scale commercial whaling and a slaughter of one of the largest and most intelligent creatures on our planet"
18000 of so whales over 18 years represents nothing like a "full-scale" commercial whaling operation. In the past total whale numbers taken
each year were more than 3 times that figure (get your past whaling statistics here). The IWC's Scientific Committee also concluded several years ago that a yearly catch of 2000 minke whales would be sustainable under it's highly conservative Revised Management Procedure. And yet a figure of half that per year is somehow "full-scale"? To put it more bluntly, poor Ian is clearly just scaremongering.

- and finishes off with a big flourish: "
Our goal is to amend the IWC convention and remove the loophole that allows scientific whaling. This generation will be judged in part by the way we treat these amazing creatures. Australia will not only continue to fight to save this important species, we will lead this historic mission."

What a hero, huh. It all sounds very grand, but it's a foregone conclusion that Australia will never be able to achieve this goal - it's failed in this "historic mission" before it's even started. But it sounds like a wonderful nice fluffy idea, which is often enough for the western public.

The Japanese hit back strongly, firstly with Joji Morishita in response to a letter from Johnny Howard to Prime Minister Koizumi:

Japan's head whaling negotiator, Joji Morishita, accused Howard of being ill-informed and emotional in criticizing Japan's research whaling program.

"Your prime minister, for example, should be more informed about what is actually happening and the only way to solve this difficult issue is not to inflate (the) emotional side of the issue," he told ABC radio.

"We should look at science and international law; that's the only way to solve difficult international negotiations," he added.

Morishita is giving Johnny Howard a little less credit than he deserves - to be fair Johnny has admitted that the law is with the Japanese. But Johnny is Australian Prime Minister, and when it comes to whaling, Western people do get emotional and say "screw the law". It's fine when it's on your side, but apparently if you're an anti-whaler, you just ignore the law if it's against you.

Takanori Nagatomo also sums up the Japanese motivation for scientific whaling: "We have been engaging in research whaling to collect scientific data so we can resume commercial whaling"
This point is eternally lost upon Western ears, however. Tell all your friends! The Western media is throughly confused, believing that scientific whaling IS commercial whaling - the reality is that scientific research comes before commercial whaling. Without scientific data, there can be no commercial whaling, as management decisions would have no basis. Research whaling programmes contribute valuable such data, and this is also why the anti-whaling governments criticise scientific whaling. With less scientific basis for commercial whaling any quotas that might be set would likely be too small for a business to justify the start-up costs. Hence, it's in the political interests of anti-whaling governments for the world to remain as ignorant about whale stocks as they possibly can.

Nagatomo then scored points when he dismissed federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell's inflammatory criticism of Japan's scientific whaling program as uninformed and probably "drafted by his junior staff".

"I don't believe a man with full knowledge of our scientific research could make such statements," Takanori Nagatomo said after Senator Campbell called the program "sick", "obscene" and "a total insult to the word science".

And shooting home the winner, "He pointed out that removing Article 8 required agreement from all 58 members of the International Whaling Commission".
Naturally, Japan, Iceland, and other nations that believe whaling management decisions should be made with ample scientific information (as required by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, in Article V - a document which all member nations have put their signature to), so we can expect any such proposal to be soundly voted down. To be honest, I'll be very surprised if Australia even takes that route. They are probably more likely to try to amend the IWC Schedule - but that won't work either as Article VIII of the ICRW states clearly that it's provisions are "Notwithstanding anything in this convention". Functionally this is equally useless, but the anti-whaling politicians might like to hold such a revision to the IWC Schedule - even if totally ineffective - as a trophy to their domestic constituencies.

But anyway - Bang. Ian Campbell - harpooned well and truely.

The anti-whaling UK media has some additional snippets from the exchanges here.

For some much more crass and stupid comment, see here. You can always tell an anti-whaling argument is
irrational when you see references to Japan's role in World War II, and comparisons between killing whales with killing humans. No further comment required!

Meanwhile, the coastal whale hunting season has just gotten underway in Japan.

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IWC 2005: Australian Labor - cunning politicians

Am I giving the Australian Labor party way too much credit?

With Aussie PM John Howard having admitted that legal action to prevent Japan exercising it's right to scientific whaling was likely to fail the opposition Labor party have come out firing again, demanding Australia take a case to the International Court of Justice.

The Labor party is publicly pretending to be much more confident that a case against Japan would be likely of success than John Howard's incumbent government:

"The case is, Japan's adherence to this practice of so-called scientific whaling for scientific purposes, can be proven to be, underlying it all, false, because the whales in question are then used for commercial purposes."

This is where I start to wonder whether the Labor party is extremely cunning, or extremely ignorant.

First, lets consider the Labor argument. It's a fairly simple one, and often bandied about in the western media as evidence of Japan's scientific whaling being "commerical whaling in disguise": Whale meat taken for the purpose of scientific whaling ends up on sushi plates around Japan. On the surface this is a simple argument and seems to make sense, which is no doubt why it has been so popular with the western media.

However, now lets consider the part of the ICRW
relevant to scientific whaling - Article VIII (and keep in mind that anti-whaling governments are all signatory to this).

It has four parts - the 1st part states:

Notwithstanding anything contained in this Convention any Contracting Government may grant to any of its nationals a special permit authorizing that national to kill, take and treat whales for purposes of scientific research subject to such restrictions as to number and subject to such other conditions as the Contracting Government thinks fit, and the killing, taking, and treating of whales in accordance with the provisions of this Article shall be exempt from the operation of this Convention.

Thus Japan and every other signatory to the ICRW clearly have the right to carry out whaling for scientific purposes.
The 2nd part of Article VIII, and the part often incorrectly described as a "loophole" reads:

Any whales taken under these special permits shall so far as practicable be processed and the proceeds shall be dealt with in accordance with directions issued by the Government by which the permit was granted.

Thus, any whales taken by Japan for scientific purposes are required by the Convention to be utilised to the fullest. There's obviously a lot of meat on just a single whale, and what better use for whale meat is there than eating? So ironically, while Japan is endlessly abused by anti-whaling nations for putting whale meat on the market, Japan is in fact required to make the best use of the remains as possible, and would be in breach of the ICRW if they failed to do so.

Now let's go back to Australian Labor's argument. They say that since whale meat goes on the market, scientific whaling is a hoax. We haven't even had to examine the validity of the research that the Japanese do on the whales taken to realise that the argument is a nonsense - Japan is legally required to make good use of the whale remains by the ICRW - a document which both Australia and Japan have put their signature to.

Clearly, the Japanese would have to have a very very bad lawyer in order to lose a case at the International Court of Justice. This isn't a case the Australians could ever win.

So where does this leave us with respect to the Australian Labor party? There are two possibilities:
1) The incumbent government has conceeded that court action against Japan would be a loser. Taking the case would be bad for the government for several reasons: The case would be a financial loss - Japan's whaling stance would be vindicated in front of the whole world once and for all - and this miscalculation would be a huge political embarassment for the Howard government to explain to the Australian public.
The Australian Labor party honchos have possibly observed this themselves. But the Australian public at large probably don't have a clue about this - and why would they? Whales and whaling have little to do with the average Westerner's daily life.
Thus, the Australian Labor party has come up with a great political position - "take this to the International Court of Justice to try to stop Japan". At the superficial level, where the average Australian voter's knowledge of whales and whaling is, this sounds like a wonderful positive action to take.
But in the other corner, the Howard government is now in a lose-lose position politically:
Action I: Take the case to the ICJ - certain to lose, resulting in a wave of criticism by the opposition parties and the public for incompetance of losing what at the superficial level seems like and open and shut case...
Action II: Don't take the case to the ICJ - by heaped with criticism by the opposition anyway, for inaction against the evil Japanese whalers.

Given the options, clearly Action II, although a loser, isn't going to result in a KO victory to the Labor party as would Action I, and is thus the option the Howard government is taking.

The Australian Labor party advisors are to be commended for their political nouse.

2) Or, as I asked at the top of this blog - am I giving the Labor party way too much credit? Perhaps they are just a bunch of chumps with useless advisors who can't understand the plain English of the ICRW?




IWC 2005: Aussies conceed that Japan is right

The Australians aren't so stupid afterall - not their politicians, at least. Johnny Howard (overnight cetacean scientist) and his attorney-general have both concluded that the court action that the anti-whaling politicians of the world have been huffing and puffing about lately "was likely to fail".

But you don't need to read Reuters or listen to the Aussie PM to know that - you can just read my blog. Japan's whaling is perfectly legal. And even Australia and New Zealand are party to the provisions of the ICRW which make it so. They could withdraw their support. But they don't. Because they are politicians.

Other choice bits:

Australian Environment Minister Ian Campbell said he would seek a permanent ban on commercial whaling and an end to Japan's whaling for scientific purposes at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in South Korea in June.

What a waste of time and Australian tax payer's money. It's the same in New Zealand of course, with nutty Chris Carter joining him there in a tax payer funded propaganda extravaganza.

The reality is that scientific whaling can't be stopped - and it's because nations like Australia and New Zealand remain signatory to the ICRW, the document which legitimises this provision. The anti-whalers talk every year about it, but never put their actions where their mouths are. The tax payers have been fooled for far too long. The Australian and New Zealand politicians don't take any action because they can score political points domestically by pretending that they are actually trying to do something .

"I really genuinely think it is quite possible that the combined strong views put by somewhere between 25 and 35 nations, and some more outside the IWC, should have an impact on the Japanese decision makers,"

Bzzzt, wrong again. Japan won't be influenced by that group of nations. The Japanese government knows that the core anti-whaling nations are just 4 - Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. All the rest are fringe nations who just go along for the ride.That's the IWC.
On the other hand, at the United Nations, which has a far larger, more representative membership, a majority of nations have voted in the past to affirm the principle of sustainable resource use. The Japanese are more than aware that the big 4 anti-whaling nations' dislike of whaling is nothing more than a recent (and likely passing) cultural phenomenon. The majority of people in the world start out looking at whales as just another animal, as do the Japanese.

The Australian newspaper said Canberra was lobbying European nations to secure the numbers to overhaul the IWC rules on scientific whaling.

Almost as disgraceful as it is stupid. Not only is Australia attempting to influence nations to vote a certain way at the IWC, they are even targeting landlocked nations which obviously have no interest in whaling. "The Government will target nations that lack sea ports".

Kudos to The Australian for fronting up and reporting this. They also report that Japan's latest research proposal "is expected to be approved at the commission's coming meeting in South Korea on May 30"
Unfortunately they don't bother to inform their readership on why this is though. But one has learnt not to expect much comprehensive of informative reporting on this issue.

Last word for this Friday night, from the Australian "Environment" minister:

"I will be representing Australia at the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission in June and will be working to remove any loopholes that allow commercial whaling, under the smokescreen of science or anything else,"

"loophole" is a word that the anti-whaling nations love to bandy about, but it has no substance whatsoever. Exercise for the reader: look up "loophole" in a dictionary. Then read Article VIII. It explicitly states exactly what was intended, and the Japanese and other whaling nations abide by Article VIII to the letter. A "loophole" refers to unintentional outcomes. There is simply no way that Article VIII could be described honestly as a "loophole".
The problem that the anti-whaling nations have is that they don't believe in not only Article VIII, but the entire ICRW anymore, and rather than save their honour and withdraw from the ICRW, they instead make silly claims such as this.

Isn't it time that the anti-whaling nations withdrew from the ICRW, stating their recently developed disagreement with it's content?

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IWC 2005: No effect on tourism from humpback proposal

An Australian Whale expert has conceeded that "Japan's application to kill more humpback and minke whales will not affect the population".

Mind you, I don't know why the media has to ask a whale expert about it - it's pretty basic stuff. I noted previously that 10 humpbacks represents a miniscule proportion of the population, which has also been described by other Australian researchers as "booming", at a rate of 10% per year.

Nonetheless, this hasn't stopped the expert in question from making a joke of himself - he was also quoted voicing concern about future expansion of any humpback whaling, saying "It just depends whether the Japanese manage to turn this into a full-scale commercial harvest, in which case we'll be in real strife."
A nonsense, unfortunately, to go with his reality. 1 from 2 is not bad though, I suppose.

What the media should be reporting is that any "full-scale commercial harvest" would be limited by catch quotas arranged under the IWC's "Revised Management Procedure".
There is no doubt that any future commercial whaling under the highly conservative RMP would be sustainable.
But, as usual, the media prefers to propagate uninformed supposition rather than reality.

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IWC 2005: Johnny Howard - overnight cetacean scientist

Remember a day or so back, Johnny Howard doubting the scientific validity of the Japanese lethal research programmes?

That's right, yesterday he was finding it "hard to believe" that the take of 400 odd minke whales had any scientific purpose.

Well, what do you know, today Johnny Howard is now a fully fledged cetacean scientist. Today he is declaring categorically that "It is not science to harvest 400 whales. It is not. The decision to go after the humpback whales as well, the decision cannot be justified on scientific grounds."

Oh yes it can :-)



IWC 2005: Morishita tells it like it is

"Japan isn't saying it wants to go out and kill as many whales as it pleases. We welcome international supervision. If countries like Australia don't want to eat whales, fine. But they have no right to impose their value judgments on us."
- Joji Morishita, Japanese IWC delegate.

This is what the anti-whaling nations need to come to grips with. Whaling isn't a battle of good versus evil. It's a battle of culture versus culture, borne out in the political arena. Western nations never doubt their belief that their culture is supreme, the most advanced, the best. But when asked about why the recent Western urge to "save the whales" is better than the long standing "eat the whales", what arguments are there? Nothing of substance. For example...
1) "Whales are endangered" is a fallacy. What matters is sustainability. So long as the whales aren't driven to extinction, there is no problem here. And obviously without whales, there would be no whale meat. Everyone agrees that preserving biodiversity is a good thing, the anti-whaling nations just can't understand the principle of sustainable reuse.
2) "Whales are so intelligent, they don't deserve to die" is a nonsense. There is no evidence that whales are much more intelligent than other edible creatures like cows, and even if there was, who ever agreed to the notion that only stupid dumb animals are fit for the dinner plate anyway? Indeed, a very cruel, unfair argument.
3) "Whales communicate with aliens" - admittedly the most sophisticated of the anti-whaling arguments, but again no proof of this other than a Star Trek movie.

"Quitting the body is on the table," Morishita also noted. Indeed, the IWC is a total joke. The anti-whaling nations maintain their signatory status to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, but clearly are totally out of step with it's content. The ICRW not only permits research whaling, which they claim to oppose, but it also states clearly in it's foreword that it's purpose is to aim towards the development of sustainable whaling industries. Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. claim on the one hand to not be interested in this at all, yet don't have the honour to withdraw from the convention. Because they continue to ruin the party at the IWC with this hypocritical, counter-productive, destructive behaviour, Japan will have little choice other than to consider other avenues for persuing the principles stated in the ICRW. If the IWC can no longer perform the role that it was designed for, there is no reason for it to continue to exist. This would be a shame, as Australia and New Zealand could contribute constructively and usefully, if only they had the vision to accept that cultural differences exist, and proceed with discussions in a rational, respectful manner.



IWC 2005: Sorry, but it's not in the hands of the politicians...

The poor western media really is confused...

"The Australian Government is determined to defeat the proposal, which will be put before the International Whaling Commission (IWC) next month."

Too bad for the Australian Government - they can't defeat it because the proposal by the Japanese isn't something that the politicians get a vote on - this is what the IWC has scientists (who actually know something useful) for. The proposal for a permit goes to the IWC's Scientific Committee, which remains less influenced by petty politics than the IWC itself. The Scientific Commitee will consider the merits of the Japanese plan, and potentially give it the go ahead. And this is of course all perfectly legal under Article VIII of the ICRW - that document which Australia, New Zealand, and other anti-whaling nations remain signatory to, despite their purported opposition to it.

The Australian Government doesn't stand a chance of influencing Japan on the issue. The Japanese know that the Australian politicians are just grandstanding. If Australians (New Zealanders / Brits / Yanks) really were against whaling they'd not be giving legitimacy to it by remaining signatory to the ICRW. The anti-whaling nations are more than welcome to quit the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling at any time.

Given that the Japanese have been issued research permits for minke whales for 2 decades now, I'd say it's odds on that they have done their homework on the proposal and the Scientific Committee will likely give permission.

One final bit of food for thought - the anti-whalers are always complaining about how whale meat ends up on sushi plates in Tokyo (this is again a requirement of the ICRW... but anyway). This isn't science they say - it's commercial whaling in disguise.

Who reading this thinks a hunt of 10 humpback whales would be a commercially successful venture? Who would invest in such a business and expect to get their money back? Sounds like a total loser to me. But apparently the anti-whalers think otherwise. Next time you come up with a total crack pot business plan, you know who you can attempt to fleece...


IWC 2005: Yet more nonsense from Australia

An independent Australian research has got his voice into the news media, and again provided confirmation of the fact that the humpback population is on the increase.
"He agrees that [humpback] numbers have recovered significantly since the moratorium on hunting in 1986."

And this is what the grossly biased western media ought to be reporting far more often.

Unfortunately however, as we have seen in recent days the politicians are spouting off in such a manner as to make one think that the Japanese are not concerned about the possibility of exterminating the "endangered" humpbacks.
Many media reports fail to mention that the apparent Japanese proposal is only reported as requesting a quota of 10(*) humpbacks.

It's common sense that the risk of driving a species to extinction is when the members of that species are dying (through natural causes or hunting) at a faster rate than they are replenishing.

Last year Australian researchers were talking of a 10% per annum natural rate of increase. It's clear that a quota of 10 humpbacks would pose no threat to the species.

When will the biased Western media report the facts?

Too bad the independent researcher spoiled his article, by subsequently adding that "It's not silly stuff or emotional stuff, but it's actually the reality of it - these animals don't deserve to die and that's the way these people are planning to kill them."
Um, what animal DOES deserve to die? (OK, I know my dad doesn't like dogs, and I don't like politicians much, but other than those...)

He also made the well and truely outdated claim that large animals like whales cannot be humanely killed. Rather than blabbing off to the media about it, he might like to tell the IWC's Working Group on Whale Killing Methods that they are wasting their time (like they would know anything about it, right?).
The reality is that using modern whaling methods, whales can be killed in a more humane manner than other hunted animals, and work is ongoing to improve the situation even further.

* 10 humpbacks is the most commonly reported number at this stage, although NZ embarassment, nutcase Chris Carter says he thinks the number is 80 - but don't be surprised if this is a made up value to increase his chances of an election year headline. We'll find out more later this month when the IWC's Scientific Committee meets.



IWC 2005: Australians pressuring the Solomons


Labor's environment spokesman Anthony Albanese says Australia should be putting pressure not just on Japan but on other members of the IWC, such as Solomon Islands.

"Given our relationship with the Pacific island states, surely that represents a clear failure of Australian diplomacy," he said.

That's the attitude - don't let small nations make their own minds up - threaten them into switching to your side. Why can't the Australians just learn to live with democracy?

Again, why is anyone surprised that small island nations like the Solomons believe that sustainable use of the ocean's resources is a fine principle? This much is not cetacean science...


IWC 2005: Greens prepared to undermine IWC's authority

One more cracker...

Like true nutters, the Greens are considering urging consumer boycott action against Japan in the case their latest scientific whaling permits are granted.

This is just pathetic. Talk about sour grapes - the Greens are behaving like babies.

It's time New Zealand either accepted the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, or got out. What is the point of New Zealand maintaining it's signatory status with regards to the ICRW if the politicians aren't going to take any rulings that go against them like adults? What the Greens are suggesting would make us look like utter fools.

Oh, silly me - I forgot. This is an election year, and the Greens need something - anything to campaign on. And the Greens only need to hope that 5% of the NZ population are stupid enough to agree with their nutty position. Good luck...


The craziness at work continues too...

Another 14 hour day today. Doesn't seem to be much hope for a let up.

Thinking of shaving my hair off. I don't need it anymore anyways.

02:00 hours here now. Time for bed!


IWC 2005: NZ government chimes in...

Remember NZ IWC delegate Chris Carter? Last year he made a laughing stock of New Zealand amongst our international peers, getting himself described as being exictable, badly informed and unknowledgable.

He's back!
This time he's talking about taking Japan to the World Court too. However, he says that the chances of NZ winning needs to be taken into account. Chris only needs to read my previous blogs on this topic to know that he doesn't stand a chance in hell of defeating the Japanese - they would likely welcome such a case.

The best bit of the article is that he actually openly admits he's nothing but a mouthpiece for Greenpeace and other such organizations.

And the Greens are back at it too, again shamelessly accusing Japan of "shamelessly" bribing small nations to vote for whaling. Quite a serious allegation, both highly offensive to the small nations in question, as well as the Japanese. Funny, recruiting small nations and appointing their commissioners with their own people is how the anti-whaling bloc pushed through the moratorium in the first place. Why should anyone be surprised that small island nations share Japan's view that natural resources can be sustainably utilised? For some reason, the Greens and other parties keen to intimidate these small nations are happy to have trouble believing this.

In the meantime, Australian Prime Minister Howard has come out showing his ignorance of whaling issues as well.

"We find it hard to believe a cull of 400 minke whales - and we're talking about minkes not the humpbacks - is scientific."

Perhaps Johnny ought to do his homework before making stupid statements like "hey, I can't understand cetacean science, so this must be front for commercial whaling".

First point of call John: high school statistics class and population sampling. Then maybe you'll start to get the picture.

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IWC 2005: pre-meeting political insanity continues

The Australian politicians have joined the NZ Greens Party in spouting off a load of silly nonsense pre-IWC 2005.

Let's take a look at what is being said...

1) Govt urged to fight whale hunting plan
2) Downer should act on whaling: Labor
3) Use diplomacy to save whales: Labor
4) Greens urge action over Japan's whaling stance
5) Japan warned whaling risks relations

Lots of reading there, so at this point you are likely thoroughly misinformed by this typical western media propaganda. Very little useful information there at all!

Let's see

The legality of Japan's scientific whaling programmes was again brought into question by various parties, par the course. If you've read my blog before you will already know that the legality of the programmes is undeniable. Those who want to deny it ought to read the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) first, in particular, Article VIII. So much for taking this case to the International Court of Justice - Japan would win hands down, and Australia would be utterly embarassed. It'd also show the world once and for all that Japan is in the right on this issue - so the Australian government would never be stupid enough to go there.

The Australians are also talking about "reforming" the IWC to have all forms of whaling stopped. Presumably they mean by getting the ICRW thrown out. But they'll find it hard to be taken seriously while they themselves remain signatory to the convention. Step 1 - put your money where your mouth is and show the world that you really oppose the content of the ICRW.

Some poor chap was under the impression that Japan killing humpbacks will impact tourism industry. That's one of the more ridiculous claims you'll find in that group of articles. How many humpback whales are the Japanese hoping to kill?
That's right.
Unless those 10 humpbacks are the only humpbacks that the tourist operators are harassing with their boats, I don't think there is much to worry about there.

Lots of threats in those articles too - one politician suggested that Australia should be "very rude indeed" towards Japan, and some fruitloop suggested a "diplomatic incident" was needed.

Of course, in such an event the party that has the most to lose is the Australians. The Japanese would be more concerned with their relations with China - it's much closer, bigger, and increasingly important trading partner.

This isn't the first time Japan has been threatened with economic sanctions, souring relations etc, over the whaling issue. Such comments are politically motivated, and will never come to anything. Lots of huffing and puffing is standard BS for western politicians on this issue. And the Japanese government is surely well accustomed to this nonsense by now.

Another poor fellow described whaling as a "horrifying practice".

Well, what can you say. Perhaps he should worry about his own backyard first.

Finally, one of those chaps talked about a "disastrous impact on humpbacks", if the Japanese go ahead with their proposal to kill 10 for research purposes.
Wasn't it just last year that Australian researchers reported that the humpback population was "booming"? They also said that "the herd is increasing at a rate of 10 per cent a year".

Let's check the IWC's population estimates.
Back in 1988 the population size was (conservatively) 5,900.
A Japanese research catch of 10 humpbacks a year would represent a piddly 0.16% of that. And just consider again that the Australian researchers believe the herd is increasing at a rate of 10% a year.

You don't have to be very good at maths to realise that talk of a "disastrous impact on humpbacks" is nothing but utter nonsense.

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Ultra busy still

Caught the 0:04 train home tonight.

Quote of the day (my boss):

"They say our schedule is agressive. Rather, I would describe it as crazy."

Indeed it is crazy, but at least I can still laugh about it.



IWC 2005: Traditional whaling in Japan

Whale meat is apparently back on the school lunch menu in the traditional whaling area of Wakayama.

Wakayama is one of a handful of regions in Japan where whale meat as been a traditional part of the diet.

Anti-whaling groups and governments will try to tell you that Japan doesn't have a long tradition of whaling at all. This is (as you probably imagined I would say) mischievous nonsense. They use this misinformation as another reason why Japan should stop whaling.

Post World War Two was when whale meat boomed in Japan. In fact, the American occupiers were the ones who ordered Japanese ships to the seas to hunt whales as a source of meat for the general populace. Those were the days when whales were ignorantly regarded globally as an infinite resource. When the anti-whaling groups talk about whaling traditions in Japan, this short period of whaling to feed school children is what they are talking about.

What they don't talk about is the genuine traditional whaling regions that existed prior to World War Two. Wakayama is one such region. Organized whaling operations first started to appear back in the 1600's (before some anti-whaling nations even existed as a countries), and lower level whaling activity existed much further ago that that.

The local economies of Wakayama and other similar communities around Japan developed based on their rich whale resources. But in recent times, due to foreign politicians looking to score points with their own constituencies, these local Japanese communities have suffered economically. Governments including that of New Zealand have continually refused to back whale catch quotas for these local communities so that they can carry on their traditions, and revive their economies.

That said, local whaling isn't the only sort of whaling that should be permitted. What matters at the end of the day is whether the activity is sustainable or not - because no-one wants to see any species of whale driven to extinction, least of all the people whose lives actually depend upon their existence (where as people in most anti-whaling countries have very little to do with whales at all).
Sustainability isn't about who catches what and how the meat is consumed, be it in a school lunch in Wakayama or a sushi restaurant in downtown Tokyo. Sustainability is simply about catching whales at a rate below the level of the rate of natural increase.



I'm back!

I have been ultra busy for the past couple of weeks.

At work we have been testing some software from our outsourcing team. There were a lot of problems with changes to requirements documentation during the construction phase, so it was to be expected, but to be honest we are really totally in the dark as to the type of testing done on the software before we get it.

We have test scripts to step our way through during testing, but without even using them - just reading through the requirements documentation - we have found quite a few problems, so it looks like it'll be tough to keep this one on schedule.

Outsourcing does have it's benefits, but it certainly has a lot of draw backs too. Ultimately no matter how much documentation you have, the most efficient way of achieving the right thing surely has to be to have the people who gather the requirements actually build the system as well - or at minimum one of the requirements people. Understanding goes deeper than you can write down in a 250 page document.

I'm guessing that approaches to outsourcing will probably change quite a bit in the next couple of years, as businesses find out more about the pitfalls involved.

At any rate, I have little doubt that my job is safe (^_^)

So because of all this, I've been doing pretty long hours - 9:00 to 23:45 type of stuff, trying to find and report as many bugs as possible within our already tight schedule.

And that's another problem. Business wants a quality system on a pretty tight schedule. But no one really knows how long it will take to build a system that meets requirements. And for some reason, the schedules are always too tight :-)

I had better go read JoelOnSoftware or something.

But anyway! We have just hit Golden Week. We had Friday off, and now Tuesday Wednesday, and Thursday (unless my boss decides we should do some more work - but I think we all need the holiday).
I'll play some tennis, and maybe start looking for a new apartment. I have to renew at the end of July, and rather than do that it might be a good opportunity to find a more exciting place to live. It's nice right next to the park, but there's not much excitement around here, and the best places are on the other side of Tokyo...


Rugby standings

Remember the world champion English rugby team?

The IRB standings show the true story. With the New Zealand teams by and large looking very good in the Super 12, I'm picking the All Blacks to take down the Lions during their upcoming tour.

Amusingly, the pathetically inaccurate Zurich Rankings are not available on their site anymore - at least as far as I can tell.


IWC 2004 archive

Here is a summary of my IWC 2004 posts from last year. Anyone interested in following this year's proceedings may find some interesting stuff there. Essentially every year the anti-whaling camp comes out with the same tired nonsense, so we'll probably find little difference this year :-)

(oldest to newest)

IWC 2004: South Pacific Whale Sanctuary

IWC 2004: The Charade continues

IWC 2004: End Moratorium - IWC Chairman

IWC 2004: NZ's bullying tactics

IWC 2004: US Government shows it has honour


IWC 2005: Schedule

The timetable for IWC 57 can be found here.

All the so called "environmental groups" surely must scratch their heads when they see the schedule each year.

Note that:
1) The schedule for the Scientific Committee meeting is from 30 May to 10 June (11 days). This is the meeting where, amongst other things, research whaling proposals will be discussed and so on.

2) The schedule for the 57th Annual Meeting runs from 20 June to 24 June (5 days). This is the politicians' meeting, where you'll hear the NZ government representatives and others spouting off heaps of nonsense - probably in even more extravagent amounts since this is an election year.

The head scratcher?
Consider the amount of politics involved in the whaling issue. Whaling is one of the most political international issues there is. The politicians have 5 days to get everything off their chests.

Now consider that the scientific committee meeting is twice as long as the politician's meeting in duration.

The "environmental groups" and anti-whaling governments would have the punters all believe that there is no science going on in the whaling world - it's all just "commercial whaling in disguise, exploiting loopholes".

Two words to all the doubters out there in Internet-land:

Wakey wakey!!


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