Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Japanese Whaling Hypocrisy

The Japanese are so full of it when they argue cultural prerogative as the basis for their whaling practice. My parents are Portuguese and whaling was a big part of Portuguese history. Are they still whaling now....uh, no. So why should the Japanese?

Apparently, the Japanese aren't even consistent in their own application of the culture argument.

Whaling is part of Japan's culture, they say. They point to archaeological evidence that whale meat has been a Japanese staple for more than 2,500 years. Respect for the "brave fish" courses through Japanese literature and paintings, they say, and has inspired folk festivals and puppet shows. Whales are so revered that the souls of the hunted and killed are commemorated in the Buddhist temples of Japan's hunting ports.

Yet despite contending that tradition justifies the whale hunt, the Japanese government BALKS AT ACCEPTING SIMILAR ARGUMENTS from the Ainu people on the northern island of Hokkaido who want to fish for wild salmon. The Japanese government has long PREVENTED THE INDIGENOUS AINU PEOPLE FROM EXERCISING THEIR TRADITIONAL HUNTING AND FIHING RIGHTS, including the right to catch salmon as they return to Hokkaido's rivers to spawn.

Salmon have always been a food staple for the Ainu, such a fundamental element of their culture that they annually perform ceremonies to give thanks for the fish. Only in recent years has the government bent to Ainu lobbying and agreed to permit a small salmon haul that allows a few fish to be caught for ceremonial purposes.

This year's allowance is 1,700 salmon, up from the 20 approved in previous years.

I would not claim that my government is always consistent," Joji Morishita, director for international negotiations for the Japanese government's Fisheries Agency, said when asked about the discrepancy between how Japan wants its whalers to be treated and the restrictions it imposes on the Ainu community. "You cannot be perfect on every issue and unfortunately that's happening in the case of the Ainu."

How noble of him to admit it.

Photo by Greenpeace_Flor.

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