Sunday, March 27, 2016

Scientific Research? Or Cover up?

TO GO WITH Environment-whaling-IWC-JapanPhoto by Kazuhiro Nogi
Hunting whales in Japanese culture can be traced as far back as 10,000 B.C and is not only a staple food but also one of great cultural significance. After an 115 day hunting trip, 333 whales were killed and 230 were pregnant females which has caused international condemnation to fall unto Japan. Commercial whaling was banned in Japan in 1986 but every year, expeditions hunt under the guise of performing scientific research and in this case, the Japanese claimed that they were targeting so many pregnant whales to determine the age that whales reached sexual maturity in order to show that the whale population is healthy enough for regular hunting. Typically, only a small part of the whale gets placed under research while the rest is sold or distributed to markets and schools to encourage consumption. Australian environmentalists are upset because the Japanese may have hunted and killed whales inside of an Australian whale sanctuary and according to Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt, “There is no scientific justification for lethal research.”
In 2014 the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan should stop all hunting and yet Japan has persisted in doing so.

Questions: How should the international community convince Japan to halt whale hunting? Would it even be possible to get Japan to stop?



Emily Shen said...
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Emily Shen said...

Whale hunting used to be popular in the United States, as well (Moby Dick!). "At its height, the whaling industry contributed $10 million (in 1880 dollars) to GDP, enough to make it the fifth largest sector of the economy. Whales contributed oil for illuminants, ambergris for perfumes, and baleen, a bonelike substance extracted from the jaw, for umbrellas." It seems like we were even more dependent on whaling than the Japanese are now. While the decline in whaling can mostly be attributed to the rise of petroleum, which replaced whale oil, attitudes also shifted about whaling being an appealing and adventurous occupation.

If the Japanese really do believe that whaling is of "cultural significance," I think that even if the international community applied pressure, the practice would still continue to go on. There are many cases in which changes of law do not necessarily change anything because there is still no change of cultural mentality.


Kristen Tamsil said...

I completely agree with Emily's point of view. A culture that needs to hunt whales for 12,000 years already would not stop without a cultural change, not with some international laws. This change will not be easy and will have to happen from within.