Japan Should Abandon Commercial Whaling
Japan long has hunted whales under the myth that it was for scientific research, enabling it to sail through a loophole in the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 moratorium on whaling. Now, that charade has ended with Japan’s decision to withdraw from the IWC and resume commercial whaling in its territorial waters beginning in July. (The good news is that Japan will abandon whale hunts around Antarctica, thus ending whaling in international waters.) Japan claims cultural and economic prerogatives for whaling but that is dubious in 2019. Whale meat no longer is a staple of the Japanese diet — a 2012 survey by the Nippon Research Center found that 90 percent of Japanese had not purchased whale meat in the preceding year. And fewer than 1,000 people are employed in the industry. Japan has not disclosed how many whales it plans to slaughter. Last year under the scientific research ruse, it killed 333 minke whales, 122 of which were pregnant. The return to commercial whaling is driven by internal political considerations, a government effort to appease nationalists raising issues of national identity. It is left, then, to outside forces to establish a price for Japan’s resumption of a cruel and demonstrably unnecessary enterprise. The United States, other members of the IWC, conservation organizations and consumers worldwide all should bring as much pressure as possible on Japan to rejoin the IWC and abandon commercial whaling.