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Fisheries minister says Japan will never stop hunting whales “it’s part of our culture”

Wednesday, February 27th 2013 - 05:44 UTC
Full article 14 comments
“We don’t condemn Koreans for eating dogs or Australians for eating kangaroos”, says Minister Hayashi “We don’t condemn Koreans for eating dogs or Australians for eating kangaroos”, says Minister Hayashi

Japan's fisheries minister said Tuesday his country will never stop hunting whales, despite fierce criticism from other nations and violent clashes at sea with militant conservationists.

“I don't think there will be any kind of an end for whaling by Japan,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told French news agency AFP.

Hayashi, who took the ministerial post overseeing the country's whaling programs in December, said the criticism of the practice is “a cultural attack, a kind of prejudice against Japanese culture”.

There is “a long historical tradition about whaling”. Japan is an island nation surrounded by the sea, so taking some good protein from the ocean is very important. “For food security I think it's very important” said Hayashi.

“We have never said everybody should eat whale, but we have a long tradition and culture of whaling.

”So why don't we at least agree to disagree? We have this culture and you don't have that culture“ he added.

Unlike Norway and Iceland, which openly flout the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling agreed through the International Commission on Whaling Japan hunts using a loophole that allows for lethal scientific research.

Hayashi, a graduate of the prestigious Kennedy School at Harvard University who first entered parliament in 1995, said Japan was tired of being lectured by nations whose own culinary cultures can seem a little off-colour.

”In some countries they eat dogs, like Korea. In Australia they eat kangaroos. We don't eat those animals, but we don't stop them from doing that because we understand that's their culture,“ Hayashi said in fluent English.

”Whaling has long been part of traditional Japanese culture, so I just would like to say 'please understand this is our culture'.”

Australia and New Zealand in particular, voice outrage over Japan's annual expeditions in the Southern Ocean, which the International Whaling Commission considers a sanctuary for the ocean giants.

The anti-whaling Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has chased the Japanese fleet off Antarctica for several years in an attempt to stop the mammals being slaughtered.


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  • Anglotino

    Dear Minister Hayashi

    We shall never stop trying to block you from hunting whales.

    Sorry but it's a cultural thing you probably don't understand. So please don't try to impose your own culture on us.


    Feb 27th, 2013 - 06:04 am 0
  • Idlehands

    Time for a good rant.....
    Kangaroos and dogs are not endangered species - whales are. The problem with the oceans is that unlike farming you can't accurately go out and count the fish or whales in the sea which has lead to them both being treated as if they are an inexhaustible supply. Whaling died out in the rest of the world mainly because there were so few left they were not economic to hunt - and they were used for their oil rather than food and cheaper substitutes for oil were developed too.

    There's also the issue of geography. You can farm what you like on your own land but whales are migratory across the entire ocean and Japan travels to the other side of the world to hunt them (rather than sticking to their own economic waters) and therefore damages other countries eco-systems while they do it.

    There's also the ethical issue of the kill. Whales are mammals not fish and their size and environment (ie the sea) makes it impossible for the kill to meet any of the standards of slaughter attributed to other mammals in the food chain. It takes hours from beginning the hunt of an individual whale to its final death and the method is as brutal as it was during the peek of the industry in the 19th century.

    The Sea Shepherd organisation opposes whaling on extreme ethical grounds - all their vessels are vegan. While I don't agree with that particular motive (I have no problem with animal farming) I do support their cause simply because the goals of their action coincide with my views - just for slightly different reasons.

    Whale meat consumption has declined dramatically in Japan to the extent that they are now feeding it to school children in an effort to continue it as a culinary custom. Apparently whale meat tastes pretty rank - so is an acquired taste and its consumption would probably have died out naturally in the modern world simply because people prefer and can afford nicer foods to eat. All it seems to be about now is not losing face

    Feb 27th, 2013 - 07:26 am 0
  • Ayayay

    All good points @Idlehands

    Feb 27th, 2013 - 08:10 am 0
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