Oil and whale
While I was in Tokyo for family emergency in the beginning of April, the judgement was rendered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague regarding whaling in the Antarctic Ocean. It found what Japanese so-called “scientific whale hunting” unjustifiable as science, in effect banning the whale hunt in the Antarctic. I had expected a big roar of protest from the public. It didn’t happen. There was only a shrug among the people on the streets. The government and the industry made a big noise in the media crying “unfair,” sounding as though theirs was the authentic voice of common people. It wasn’t.
The whole outcry about the ICJ judgement was industry driven in collusion with the Japanese government. People didn’t care all that much about the ban because its impact on their daily life is negligible. Very few people eat whale contrary to the claim that whale is an important part of traditional diet. There are only few high-end restaurants that serve whale meat, like selling Kangaroo meat in Canada. I never ate whale in my twenty years of youth in Japan, neither did I see it in the market, never at home, mine nor others. I first tasted whale meat in Vancouver during the 1960’s offered at a Japanese trading company representative. He was trying to sell it to Canada. The effort obviously wasn’t a roaring success.
The industrial scale whaling is an import from Norway and the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, hardly traditional. Japan before the industrialization until the end of 19th century did not possess ocean-going boat. “Traditional diet?” It’s a spin by the industrial scale fishing industry, a party line toed faithfully by the government, which has supported the industry with the billions of yens for years.
I could not help but to compare the whale situation with the whole discourse about resource extraction in Canada: the controversy about benefit to the Canadian economy from gas and oil extraction by fracking, tar sand, pipelines, etc. It looks like there is connivance between the oil industry and the government trying to make resource extraction essential to the welfare of nation. Is it? A policy span by the industry/government complex does not necessarily represent interest of people nor truth. I saw unravelling of such deception in Japan.