From Green Right Now Reports
Pro and anti-whaling nations will gather this week in Morocco, and Japan’s steadfast defense of whale hunting is likely to be the center of renewed debate.
In all, 88 countries will consider whether to formally sanction commercial whale hunting for the first time in 24 years. The International Whaling Commission is hoping for a compromise that will allow for limited whaling, but also will seek to get Japan to end its annual hunt in the Antarctic.
A ban on whaling has existed since 1986, but Japan, Norway and Iceland have continued harvesting under a variety of exceptions. Japan has argued that whaling is a treasured part of its culture. Critics of that stance say the average Japanese has no appetite for whale meat and does not support the hunting.
Japan’s official passion for whaling is at odds with public sentiment, says Tomohiko Taniguchi, an adjunct professor at Tokyo’s Keio University.
“The media pays very little attention to this issue. Ironically, a very small minority group gets a disproportionately big voice. The stake involved is so small, so Japanese government has very little stake in this,” Taniguchi says.
“To be blunt, I became aware that the whaling issue was one of the best ways to lose friends for Japan.”
Taniguchi favors the compromise proposal, which would reduce the scale of Japan’s hunt in exchange for allowing it to pursue limited coastal whaling. According to Taniguchi, government-subsidized hunts in the Antarctic have flooded the market with whale meat, depressing prices and damaging coastal communities where whaling is most important.