In this issue: Virtual Butchery · Avast ye Whalers! · Wartime Crimes · Deficit Whaling
Eco 2007, Volume LXI, Reports from the International Whaling Commission annual meeting in Anchorage
May 30, 2007 · Volume LXI, No.3 · (also as .pdf, ~350k)

Trading and Whaling

Australians for Animals reminds us all of the "ties that bind." Japan’s rogue Fisheries Agency believes it can ignore the IWC and the approbation of the world’s conservationists because the whaling issue is up to Japan to decide.

But Japan is dependent on other nations for its trade – both imports and its manufacturing markets – "ties that bind" far deeper than Japan cares to admit.

Australia: Japan is Australia’s most important export market. In 2004-2005 Australia’s total trade with Japan was 42 billion, with a $7.7 billion trade surplus for Australia. Japan has been Australia’s largest export market for 40 years since l966. Japan also remains Australia’s second largest inbound tourism market attracting approximately 700,000 tourists each year. Australia is currently negotiating a Japan/Australia Free Trade Agreement. The trade deal could add nearly $40 billion to Australia’s economy.

New Zealand: Japan is New Zealand’s fourth most important export market after Australia, the European Union and the US and the third largest source of imports. New Zealand’s total exports tapered off from NZ $3.44 billion in the year to December 2004 to NZ $3.24 billion in the year to December 2005. Given the importance of the Japanese market for NZ exporters, New Zealand has sought to engage with Japan on a range of sanitary, phytosanitary, regulatory and tariff issues which affect bilateral trade in agricultural, forestry and fisheries products. Japan is a major market for New Zealand’s dairy exports, and is New Zealand’s largest market for cheese. Japan is New Zealand’s second largest market for forest products, with exports to June 2005 totalling almost NZ $610 million. Japan provides a major source of tourism revenue for New Zealand estimated at around $620 million a year. For the year ended September 2005, an estimated l59,617 Japanese tourists visited New Zealand.

whale woodcut

United States: As Japan’s largest trading partner, the United States absorbs over 30 percent of Japan’s exports and provides over 19 percent of Japan’s imports. Japan is the largest market for US agricultural exports, importing feed and feedgrains, beef, wheat and flour, fruit, processed foods, and other agricultural products. Japan is the top importer of U.S. beef. In 2001, Japan absorbed 40 percent of total US beef and beef variety meat exports on a volume basis and 48 percent on a value basis.

Australians for Animals notes that the US has formally threatened trade sanctions on whaling countries more than l0 times, but each time it has backed down. US farm and agribusiness groups have repeatedly expressed concern that imposing trade sanctions against Japan might harm US agricultural exports to the country, which is the biggest agricultural export market for US farmers.

United Kingdom: Japan is the UK’s largest export market outside Europe and the US. It represents 12 percent of world GDP. Japan is a sophisticated, competitive and stable business market for British exporters and investors. British exports to Japan grew by 2.8 percent in 2005 to £3,700m. Exports were dominated by three major sectors: chemical products, machinery and transport equipment.

Europe: Japan is the EU’s fifth largest export market after the US, Switzerland, Russia and China. Japan accounts for 7.36% of EU agricultural exports, 5.46%of textile, 5.39% of chemical products, 4.21% of transport materials. With a 6.2% (2005) share of the EU import market, Japan is the fourth largest source of imports into the EU after the US, China and Russia. Over the past four decades, Europe and Japan have emerged together as leading world economic powers, reaching together around 40% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Crass economics or environmental protection? Guess which wins and which loses?

Icelandic Whaling: Bad for Business!

In January this year, the Chief Executive of the Baugur Group, a major Icelandic investment company, issued a public statement denouncing the Icelandic Government’s whaling policy.

In his statement, Jon Asgeir Johannesson said opposition to whaling around the world was "damaging Icelandic companies and probably their continuing growth in the future." He also referred to the damage to the tourism industry in Iceland, and the fact that holiday bookings had already been lost due to whaling.

He said, "A large number of foreign companies owned by Icelanders have had problems relating to this issue, and many groups have threatened to cease trading with these companies unless whaling is stopped immediately."

Andy Ottaway of Campaign Whale said, "We are delighted that Baugur has spoken out against the Icelandic Government’s short-sighted and disastrous whaling policy. With major Icelandic companies like Baugur opposing whaling, we hope the government will finally recognise that continuing whaling is bad for business."

Following this announcement, and in a huge blow to the whalers, Baugur has also committed to stop selling whale products throughout their business holdings. This is significant since they own Hagar, a retail enterprise with business operations in Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark. Hagar operate Iceland’s largest supermarket chains Hagkaup and Bónus, both major distributors and retailers of whale meat in the country.

Reports from Iceland suggest that whale meat is not popular and that sales are extremely slow. Baugur’s decision to stop selling whale products will make life even more difficult for the whalers to make a profit from killing whales. It may yet be the death knell for Iceland’s resurgent whaling industry.

Meanwhile, UK supermarkets are pledging to not buy fish from whalers and to review their sourcing of seafood if Icelandic whaling continues. The stakes could not be higher for Icelandic fish companies. If Iceland stops whaling, the UK major fish retailers would have a whaling-free choice for sourcing their seafood products for the first time. Alarm bells should be ringing in Norway and the Faroes, both notorious whale-killing countries that are major exporters of seafood to the UK, EU, and US.

The statement that UK retailers are supporting is:

  1. We undertake to ensure our seafood suppliers have no link, directly or indirectly, to companies involved in whaling;
  2. We do not accept that whales and other marine mammals need to be killed in order to "protect" commercial fish stocks. Not only does this assertion have no scientific credibility, we do not believe that that the cruel slaughter of whales is either justifiable or desirable either. We also believe that the public does not want to buy any seafood caught and supplied at the expense of whales. As such, we believe continued whaling by Iceland poses a serious threat to our business interests;
  3. In light of the above concerns we will have little choice but to review our seafood procurement policy if Iceland’s whaling continues.

New for PEW

PEW Charitable Trusts presented the results of their invitation-only symposium on whales in New York in April 2007 and announced the formation of another PEW campaign with staff, this time focused on conservation of whales.

whale woodcut

PEW’s symposium, featuring scientists, international specialists, and representatives of some NGOs familiar with the IWC, came up with a wide range of ideas – a "menu of options" in the words of Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the long-time member of the New Zealand IWC delegation and chairman of the PEW symposium – for "moving the IWC forward."

Somewhat optimistically, the PEW group even claimed to see "common ground" with the Japan-led Normalization Conference, although the attendees to each of these symposiums largely boycotted each other. "Common ground" included agreement on basing decisions on "science," replacing harsh rhetoric with more diplomatic language, and the need to maintain and fix the IWC.

Some of the options were strongly supported by NGOs with long experience in IWC matters, but other recommendations were less than supportable. Plus, many of the options seemed to observers to have been tried in past, with a notable lack of success.

Suggestions such as enforcement of the existing ban on whaling in the Southern Oceans whale sanctuary and closing the loophole allowing commercial whaling to be conducted under the guise of "scientific" whaling were met with general approval. But several NGO’s objected strongly to the suggestion that Japan be allowed to conduct commercial whaling in the North Pacific as a trade-off to stop whaling in Antarctic waters – essentially doing away with the global moratorium on commercial whaling. (This proposal is very similar to the long-debated, and eventually rejected, Irish Proposal. Nobody much liked that plan, either.)

It is not clear which of these options the new PEW whale conservation project will adopt. NGOs will be watching closely to ensure that the new PEW group helps, and doesn't hurt, whales.

Japan’s Imperial Army Established Whaling

Like other criminal acts of the Japanese Imperial Army in the 1930s and 1940s, the Japanese government is suppressing the fact that its whaling industry was created by the army for the sole purpose of financing the invasion of China and the conquest of the rest of East Asia.

Japan’s Manchurian Army, established in 1931 after the Japanese invasion of the northern Chinese province of Manchuria, became an economic giant by seizing the industries and resources of the vast region. In 1934 it purchased Japan’s first whaling fleet from Norway. By 1940, its six whaling fleets were larger than the combined fleets of all the other nations in the world.

The driving force behind the Manchurian Army’s empire – and its rapacious whaling industry – were the warmongering General Hideki Tojo, who went on to become prime minister and launch the attack on Pearl Harbor, and a brilliant, ruthless government bureaucrat, Nobusuke Kishi, who ran the financial side of the empire.

Both Kishi and Tojo were indicted as Class A war criminals after World War II. Tojo was executed for his role as wartime dictator, but Kishi, charged with looting Manchuria and China, stealing private assets and enslavement of thousands of civilians to work in mines and factories, was released to help build an anti-communist movement in Japan. He served as prime minister from 1957 to 1960, a period the government pumped millions of dollars into Japan’s whaling industry.

Nobusuke Kishi was also the grandfather of Japan’s current prime minister, Shinzo Abe.

From 1934 to 1942, tens of thousands of blue, fin, sei, humpback and right whales were ruthlessly slaughtered by the Japanese fleets in the Antarctic waters and the Pacific for their edible oil, which was sold in Europe for hard currency. All of the whale meat was thrown overboard because Japanese farmers, alarmed at the threat to their meat industry, pushed through a ban on whale meat imports.

The funds from the whaling massacre were used to purchase German and British arms, machine tools and other war materiel for the expansion of the Japanese empire.

"All of the pelagic fleets sent to the Antarctic were owned and operated by Nippon Suisan Kabushiki Kaisha Company, the main shareholder of which was the Manchurian Heavy Industries Corporation," according to Prof. George Small in his award-winning history of the modern whaling industry, The Blue Whale. "This corporation was the principal economic and industrial arm of the Japanese army in Manchuria. The objective of the Nippon Suisan Company, as stated in the 1941 Mainichi Yearbook, was the acquisition of foreign currency and food supplies for the Japanese armed forces."

In 1937, when Japan began to ally itself with Nazi Germany, most of Japan’s whale oil production was being sold to the German government, according to The History of Modern Whaling, produced by the Norwegian Whaling Association.

After just three years in business, Japan accounted for more than 11 percent of pelagic whaling. "Foreign whalers were seized with panic at Japan’s rapid progress: that the whale oil should have ended up in Germany was part and parcel of the extensive trade connections between the two countries, ushering in the military-political alliance of the Tokyo-Berlin Axis," commented the Norwegian history.

In 1940, after war had broken out in Europe and shipping to Germany was too dangerous, thousands of tons of whale oil were stockpiled in Manchuria; efforts were made to ship some of it by rail to Germany through the Soviet Union. During the 1940-41 Antarctic whaling season, Japan’s six fleets deployed 51 catcher boats. They produced 622,413 barrels of whale oil. "In that season, Japan actually accounted for 59 percent of the pelagic Antarctic production," states the Norwegian book.

Taking advantage of an expired ban on hunting humpback whales, the Japanese Antarctic fleets in 1941 harpooned 2,394 of the endangered species – the same humpback stock that Japan is now planning to target in its "research" whaling scheme.

Under orders from the Manchurian Army, Nippon Suisan openly defied attempts to regulate the whaling industry in the 1930’s. "During those years several international agreements, designed to prevent overexploitation of stocks of whales, were reached under the aegis of the League of Nations," Dr. Small wrote. "The agreements included standard prohibitions such as the killing of the nearly extinct Right whales, suckling calves of all species, and females accompanied by a calf. Japan refused to sign or abide by any of the agreements even when for her benefit the North Pacific, her oldest whaling area, was specifically excluded. The reason for the refusal to adopt even rudimentary conservation practices was the urgent demand placed on the Japanese economy by the country’s war in Manchuria and China."

Under the direction of Tojo and Kishi, the Manchurian Army – called the Kwantung Army in Japan – plundered not just the whales. Gold, artworks, and other valuables were looted from Manchuria, and resources such as iron, coal and timber were stripped for shipment to Japan. The most ardent Japanese imperialists seized control of Manchuria’s riches to finance the conquest of all Asia.

"Real power in Manchuria was in the hands of the Kwantung Army and its underworld allies, overseen by General Tojo Hideki, head of the secret police," reported Sterling Seagrave in his remarkable history of Japan’s royal family, The Yamato Dynasty. "Its economy was managed top to bottom by the newly formed Nissan zaibatsu. The Kwantung Army became financially independent of Tokyo, able to act without budgetary restraint, peer review or government interference. Tojo became its chief of staff, on his way to becoming prime minister of Japan."

two whales, woodcut

"Such extraordinary success stimulated the Kwantung Army’s appetite to seize more territory. China was certainly more tempting than Siberia," Seagrave explained. On 7 July 1937, the Kwantung Army set off a phony incident at the Marco Polo Bridge outside Peking. "An unidentified man shot at Japanese soldiers, allowing them to open fire on the Chinese defenders. The incident quickly escalated to full invasion and a China War that bogged down nearly a million Japanese troops for eight years."

The Japanese Imperial Army pillaged and plundered as it moved through China, with the December 1937 Rape of Nanking, the capital of the Chinese Nationalist government, reflecting the army’s Three Alls policy: "Burn All, Kill All, Seize All." More than 250,000 non-combatants were brutally murdered in Nanking, and much of the undefended city was torched.

The whales, sadly, have suffered a "Three Alls" persecution at the hands of Japan since 1934.

The Green Pirates of the Antarctic?

Shiver me timbers and blow me down. There be pirates in these waters, matey! Arrr!

Japan has issued a new paper entitled "Safety Issues at Sea and Their Implications." The Japan Fisheries Agency helpfully included a long list of "Interferences with Whale Research" (without noting that "whale research" is synonymous with "whale killing") from 1987 to 2007, conducted according to the list by Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd Society.

The paper complains about the "escalation of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd illegal harassment," again without noting the escalation of Japan’s illegal whale hunts. Also included are website photos and video clips (available online) to illustrate some of these incidents.

Just so IWC delegates won't miss the point, Japan’s paper goes on to provide the Definition of Piracy from the UN Law of the Sea Treaty. Arrr!

Now, ECO realizes that Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson rather enjoys calling himself a pirate taking care of pirate whalers, but Greenpeace practices nonviolence as part of their creed. Accusing Greenpeace of piracy is a bit like accusing the Girl Scouts of extortion in selling their little cookies.

Ahoy! Where is Johnny Depp when we really need him?

Japan Dolphin Slaughter Online

Japan’s violent and bloody annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins can be found online at:
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition
new footage from last fall’s hunt by Richard O’Barry:
Blue Voice website: (Click on "Web Files")