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Japanese Whaling Industry ‘Dead in the Water,’ Says Animal Welfare Group

Charity says industry struggling to survive despite government bailout and calls for resources to be diverted to whale-watching

By Justin McCurry

Japan's whaling industry is "dead in the water" and cannot survive without huge taxpayer subsidies, according to a study.

photoname Photo by Flickr user GuanoThe Japanese whaling fleet uses water cannons to ward off a Greenpeace protestors in this 2008
photo. The cost of sending the fleet to the Antarctic and clashes with anti-whaling groups have forced
the Japanese fleet to return with a fraction of its quota in recent years.

The report, to be published on Tuesday by the charity International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), draws on Japanese government data for the first time to build a case against the use of millions of dollars in public subsidies to prop up the industry amid a dramatic decline in consumption of whale meat.

Last year those subsidies included ¥2.28bn ($24.6m) siphoned off from the budget for reconstructing the region devastated by the March 2011 tsunami.

The report, seen by the Guardian, calls on the government to divert resources to Japan's fledgling whale-watching industry as a "pro-economy, pro-whale" alternative to its annual "research" hunts in the Antarctic. "Whaling is an unprofitable business that can survive only with substantial subsidies and one that caters to an increasingly shrinking and ageing market," it says.

Annual subsidies, channelled through the Institute for Cetacean Research, average about ¥782m ($8.3m), it said, adding that the government spent at least ¥30bn ($322.8 m) on whaling between 1987 and last year.

In addition, part of a separate profitable fisheries program is being used, in part, to fund the refitting of the whalers' factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, which will enable the fleet to operate for at least another 10 years.

Japan refuses to abandon its whaling program, despite years of opposition from countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Patrick Ramage, the director of IFAW's global whale program, said that was due in part to the influence wielded by politicians representing coastal fishing communities with links to whaling, and bureaucrats at the fisheries agency.

"There's also the fact that Japan doesn't appreciate foreigners telling them what to do, and that allows them to play the cultural imperialism card," he said.

The report says official claims that whaling is a historical and cultural necessity are "profoundly and increasingly untrue".

Studies conducted on IFAW 's behalf by the Japan-based E-Square and Nippon Research Centre show whale meat consumption has fallen to about 1 percent of its 1960s peak, when it was a vital source of protein. Current stockpiles of unsold whale meat have increased to nearly 5,000 tons, about four times greater than they were 15 years ago.

"With growing wealth and modernization, the people of Japan have lost their yen for whale meat," the report says. "Yet fisheries officials and other government figures continue to siphon off millions of taxpayer yen to prop up an industry that is effectively dead in the water."

photoname Photo by Sun Yin KhooCanned whale meat at a Tokyo supermarket. The consumption of whale meat
in Japan has declined in recent years.

Prof Masayuki Komatsu, a former agriculture ministry official who teaches ocean and marine resource policy at the national graduate institute for policy studies in Tokyo, agrees that whaling in its current form is economically unsustainable. His solution, however, is to increase the annual whale catch in the Antarctic and north-west Pacific so prices drop enough to attract a new generation of consumers.

"For older Japanese, whale meat is something special that you are happy to pay a premium for," he said. "But young people have never experienced the taste. It's not special to them and there are plenty of other sources of protein they can turn to. Japan needs to sell whale meat at a competitive price, similar to that of pork or chicken, and to do that it needs to increase its annual catch."

According to an  IFAW survey published late last year, 89 percent of Japanese people said they had not bought whale meat in the past 12 months.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986, but a clause in the ban allows Japan to catch up to about 1,000 mainly minke whales in the southern ocean every winter, and to sell the meat on the open market. Komatsu believes the IWC ban should be lifted to allow Japan to catch "at least" 1,000 whales a year.

The cost of sending the fleet to the Antarctic and clashes with the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group have forced the fleet to return with a fraction of its quota of about 950 whales in recent years. Late last year, the whalers left port several weeks late and are expected to take only about 300 whales, Komatsu said.

Australia, which last week demanded Japan's whaling fleet leave its exclusive economic zone as it prepares for this winter's slaughter, has taken its campaign to end the Antarctic whale hunts to the international court of justice in the Hague. A ruling could come this year.

"The fisheries agency is using international opposition to whaling to build domestic support," Ramage said. "But I don't think that argument is selling any better than all that whale meat now sitting in warehouses. Whatever judgment the court makes, it won't change the reality that in the end, the decision on whaling is going to be made in Tokyo."

The IFAW report calls for the development of whale watching along Japan's coastline, a move that, unlike the Antarctic hunts, "will turn a profit and directly benefit costal communities".

Ramage said: "Whale watching is an economically beneficial alternative that's taking off in Japan and deserves government support."

The Guardian
The Guardian UK, one of Britain's top daily newspapers, provides coverage of international environmental issues. Earth Island Journal is a member of the Guardian's Environment News Network.

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Comments

Whaling industry of Japan looks complicated.
However, a conclusion is very simple.
Whaling of Japan of the Antarctic Ocean exists only in the act which “kills whales “.

It is the industry of only” killing whales”.
1) A fishery prefecture has a 5000-ton stockpile.
2) It was reported by ifaw that Japanese people hardly consume whale meat.

The act which kills this whale gives a *2 billion yen economic effect to a fleet-of-whalers port of call.

A meaning will not be made, if this whaling is “research whaling” for the Fisheries Agency and it will be “commercial whaling.”
Although the whale meat which is a by-product of the “research whaling” which they say will sell, it will not sell, but this does not have a meaning, either.
The Japanese government has continued claiming “Food culture” and “tradition” as an overseas-oriented announcement.
The act of this “whale murder” is just the truth that they want to continue. However, this cannot be announced to the world honestly.

The government of one country is making industry continue only the murder act of other races. (** A tax is used and revival money is appropriated for the budget. )
The Yamaguchi prefecture is the greatest whaling promotion prefecture. In order for Prime Minister expression Abe from Yamaguchi Prefecture to affirm this slaughter industry, the maximum tries hard. The Abe whaling Cabinet was supported by the powerful whaling lobby group, and was inaugurated.

Please note that the diplomacy of the future Japanese government is made for the purpose of whaling industrial continuation.

If it does not yield to the pressure from the world but whaling of the Japanese government continues to industrial continuation of only this slaughter, I will suspect “the Japanese government is a stockpile of the whale meat for the third World War.”

This war preparation must be a threat to the world.

The Western countries which have not yielded to oda of Japan should examine to Japan.

*“charges for custody of a cold storage warehouse . Stay of the family of crew, such as an agency about the delivery charge to every place, and entry into port, the persons concerned, etc. etc.—economic effect of presumption of about 2 billion yen .
Shimonoseki is aimed at as a lasting base of a whaling survey ship team.”
By Shimonoseki-shi, Mayor Tomoaki Nakao ( Yamaguchi Prefecture ).

**It is an about 2,300 million yen subsidy as “revival of an area-devastated-by-an-earthquake region” to a research whaling enterprise.

By toshio yashiro on Sun, February 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm

The whale issue was made into the taboo in Japan. I think that politics of Japan was supported according to whaling industry / whaling Lobby group.
Because, Shinzo Abe ( the present prime minister )came from the Yamaguchi prefecture which is a very powerful whaling prefecture. Many prime ministers came from the Yamaguchi prefecture. Abe ,himself commented to the press that the Yamaguchi prefecture is the prime minister’s place of production. I think that this means taking the prime minister’s post by support of powerful whaling Lobby group. That is, Abe who became the prime minister has the consciousness that whose whaling industry is protected it is a mission.  The Abe Cabinet is “the whaling Cabinet”.

1) “The Japanese whalers are far more aggressive this year than in past campaigns.”
2)  Introduction of the tax fund and the tsunami relief funds to whaling industry
Present Cabinet began to move to “the mission of whaling industrial relief” certainly.

For years, the Japanese government and bureaucrat organization operated media, and has trained the Japanese for the ignorant people and foolish people who pay a tax silently. Media lost trust by nuclear power plant disaster report.
Very precious data come from overseas.
However, do major media of Japan report this unusual “whaling industrial bailout” to the Japanese exactly?
“japanese People are foolish, are ignorant and should just pay a tax. “
“Mein Kampf” by Hitler. Can’t this ideology be found out?
A young generation acquires true information by the Internet. The coordinates of Japan in the world can be checked.
We understand that this slaughter is meaningless however.
It is just the shift time from tv generation to an Internet generation now. This is generation war and is information warfare.
I am thankful to overseas nego, npo, and the anti-whaling country government from the bottom of my heart.
The Japanese government and the whaling industry cannot perform logical explanation justly to the world about this slaughter. Because, “there is whaling first”. All reasons were attached later.

from tokyo

By toshio yahsiro on Tue, February 05, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I would like to name this Abe Cabinet the “whaling Cabinet.” 1, “Shinzo Abe ” (new prime minister ), comes from Yamaguchi- prefecture and Yamaguchi-prefecture is a huge whaling promotion prefecture.( Shimonoseki is the city of the Yamaguchi prefecture. ) 2, “Yoshimasa Hayashi ” (as new minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries-the position responsible for whaling policy).He also comes Yamaguchi -Prefecture. 3, “Taro Aso ” ( vice Prime Minister minister) is also powerful “pro-whaling lobby”
Now It is becoming famous that “Shinzo Abe ” is the greatest whaling promoter.
His wife advertizes a whale meat hamburger and enjoys a dolphin show.
The government and media manipulate the blind spot skillfully, and use it, and it is making whaling industry continue.
Australia is the country blessed very much with mineral resources. The future will not have Japan without Australia. The Abe Cabinet of a whaling group of promoters understands this. Australia is the only justice and hope . The achievements of Australia for our consciousness reform are very large.
“In 2010, it exceeded 5,000 tonnes, before falling slightly to 4,284 tonnes in 2011” by Sir Ronald Sanders.A huge stockpile is a big proof which shows the non-necessity for whaling more to the world.A huge stockpile = “preparation of the third World War” ? Why nobody suspects? I do.  Japan prepares for” 3rd World War “and is continuing whaling ? This is my conclusion. Therefore, it persists in whaling unusually. Existence of whaling industry of Japan is too unusual. Otherwise, the justification for existence of this unusual industry cannot imagine to me.

By toshio yashiro on Mon, February 04, 2013 at 5:01 pm

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