Japan is dropping its membership in the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an international group composed of 89 member nations, and will resume commercial whaling in July, 2019.
Although hugely disappointing, the decision comes as no surprise. Japan attended the 2018 IWC meeting in Brazil with the intention of persuading member nations to vote to drop the moratorium on commercial whaling and to resume the cruel, barbaric practice. Japan’s motion did not receive the required votes and was defeated.
Japan alone is responsible for the slaughter of over 1,000,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the last 70 years. Whether this insane slaughter continues to this day, is difficult to ascertain due to limited publication of the facts. However, according to https://www.dosomething.org, the Japanese kill 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales every year. The slaughter of dolphins occurs in the Taiji bay, which was made known to the world in the documentary film The Cove. Those cetaceans that aren’t slaughtered are sold to aquariums around the world. The going price for a dolphin is around $32,000 U.S.. When not conducting dolphin slaughtering events, “the fishermen also participate in harpoon hunts and small type coastal whaling for dolphins and pilot whales, as elsewhere in Japan, effectively ensuring that Japan’s dolphins are under almost year-round assault from these various hunting methods and seasons,” according to WDC in Action: “Dolphin Hunts – Focus on Taiji, Japan.” Some of these species are nearing extinction and cannot “come back.”
The other galling issue with the Japanese sport of harpooning mammals, is that though they’ve been a member of the International Whaling Commission for years, they’ve still hunted whales during this time, often in waters set aside for whale sanctuaries. These animals have been slaughtered under the guise of “scientific research,” a lame loophole in the moratorium that allows limited whale hunts. Last year alone Japan slaughtered over 300 minke whales, 120 of which were pregnant. It’s no secret that much of the meat from the slaughtered mammals is offered on restaurant menus even though few Japanese eat whale meat nowadays.
Many whale species like the blue whales, fin whales and sei whales have not recovered from earlier decimation, contrary to what the Japanese say.
Kate O’Connell, AWI marine wildlife consultant, summed it up nicely when she said, “This cruel and unnecessary industry is a relic of the past that has no place in modern society.” Yet Japanese officials claim that hunting and eating whales is part of their cultural heritage. This seems a bit far-fetched for a country that prides itself on its “massaged, beer-fed Kobi beef.” There are no samurais running about the Japanese countryside anymore. Whaling is an activity of the past that caused several species to become extinct.
It appears, by all accounts, that this whaling decision may be a matter of Japan “saving face.”
(Parts of this article are quoted from Saving Our Oceans, release date May 2019.)