Counting the Blessings of Whales: Insights from a Chopsticks-wielding Patriot No.5
By Koizumi Takeo,
Chapter IV Three Reasons Why Anti-Whaling Nations are Against Resumption of Whaling
Buy beef rather than catching whales!
The moratorium (temporary ban on commercial whaling) adopted by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) had a collateral condition that it should be reviewed by 1990 at the latest, which has remained ignored, and resumption of commercial whaling is still nowhere in sight. In particular, the content of IWC meetings in the 1990s was almost intended for “stopping commercial whaling from being resumed in one way or another.”
It was despite the fact that sufficient stocks had already been confirmed by scientific research and excessive protection had caused whales to increase to result in serious feeding damage.
Why on earth do anti-whaling countries strongly oppose the resumption of commercial whaling?
One reason is a political structure in which many of the major powers playing the central role among anti-whaling countries are in fact exporters of beef and pork.
The point is to cut off a route for Japan to independently procure whale meat as a source of animal protein. It would increase the degree of Japan’s dependence on imported meat, translating to an increase in their beef and pork exports.
The U.S., Australia and New Zealand, which are leading figures most firmly opposing whaling, are the world’s biggest meat producers. Therefore, their economy cannot be maintained without selling livestock products such as beef and dairy products to foreign countries. In Australia, for example, the number of cattle raised is approximately 28 million, whereas the human population is approximately 20 million. It exports about 70% of the beef produced to overseas.
In addition to Australia and the U.S., the same situation can be found in Canada, New Zealand and many of the European countries, which are livestock and agricultural countries anxious to sell their own agricultural products.
There are also reasons on the part of Japan. In recent years, Japan, which has stopped promoting agriculture to become an industry-oriented country, has been selling products such as automobiles, electrical appliances and computers to overseas. This causes a trade imbalance, which obliges Japan to buy agricultural products from foreign countries.
As a result, Japan opened the domestic beef market to foreign countries in 1991, about 20 years ago. Since then, American and Australian beef have come into the country in large quantities, which has made a significant change to the Japanese market.
In particular, Japan is the biggest export partner of Australian beef, about 400,000 tons of which are imported annually.
After all, the whaling issue relates to these trade issue between countries. Behind the anti-whaling countries’ opinion that whales should be protected is an intention of selling their meat without giving whaling countries a choice of eating whale meat, which should not be a groundless suspicion. In short, the true intention of the three biggest meat producers, namely the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, may be “Why don’t Japan just buy beef, not taking the trouble to catch whales?”
Environmental issues with cattle and whales
Some people in Japan also say that we do not need to bother to dispute with anti-whaling countries for catching whales but can simply eat beef, pork and chicken. I would like to speak out here: We must not forget that whale meat should not only be seen as food but it provides a food material much more ecological for global environment.
For example, there is stark difference in energy efficiency between producing beef and catching whales. For obtaining whale meat, whaling by using a small whaler consumes 1 kcal in terms of fuel for 1 kcal of whale meat. However, obtaining 1 kcal of wheat, which provides feed for cattle, requires 10 kcal of fuel. Furthermore, producing 1 kcal of beef is said to require approximately 120 kcal of grain feed.
Naturally, labor and money for growing the grain are also required.
In this way, raising cattle takes a lot of work but catching whales does not require so much effort other than the ship fuel and labor costs, which are almost all that are necessary to get the meat of gigantic whales.
In addition, cattle generate large amounts of excreta. They excrete many times every day, which nitrifies the soil to flow into the sea if it rains, causing the river and sea to be nitrified. In dairy farming in Japan, farmers are required by law to completely dispose of the excreta of their livestock, which has resolved the environmental issue, but it is not as easy in other countries. In addition, the belches of cattle constantly generate large amounts of methane gas, which is said to be non-negligible for global warming.
We are now in an age when global warming is a problem. Hundreds of millions of cattle are raised in the U.S. but, at some future time, global environmental pollution may make cattle raising impossible.
Meanwhile, whaling hardly involves pollution like this. In addition, heavy metal content of seafood due to marine pollution has become an issue but analysis of whale meat has shown that the amounts of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and carcinogenic PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) are remarkably smaller than those in other fish. For example, PCB content of whale meat is 0.00018 ppm and average of that for other fish is 0.5 ppm.
When it comes to mercury content, the average for fish is 0.4 ppm as compared with 0.027 ppm for whales. It is virtually negligible.
It means that, from the perspective of the safety of food as described in Chapter II, whales provide food worth paying attention to for future Japanese diet.
Whales utilized politically
Another reason why anti-whaling countries object to whaling is that they can use the whales issue as a symbol of environmental issues.
Whales are mammals and the biggest creatures on earth. They flip their tail fins and mother whales make sounds to signal their babies of their locations as they swim as long as 6,000 to 8,000 km. When people are shown footage of a scene like this, they are inclined to think, “Eating whales, such admirable creatures, is cruel and sad.”
One major factor in anti-whaling countries’ gathering strength is use of the media for skillfully utilizing footage in this way.
Now, let me mention something, although pretty old, that is symbolic and provides a starting point of today’s anti-whaling activities.
It is about the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Cuba, which is a socialist country, is located in Latin America, as if at the throat of the U.S. Nevertheless, it was hostile to the U.S. and had formed a close relationship with the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) both politically and militarily. Cuba declared that it would buy missiles from the U.S.S.R. and deploy them in the country. The U.S., intending to prevent it, announced that it would implement a naval blockade, in response to which the U.S.S.R. sent war vessels to the Caribbean. The tension peaked, the situation reached a flash point leading to the possible Third World War and the whole world was tense. In the end, Cuba did not deploy missiles and the U.S.S.R. turned back but the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had a highly confrontational relationship.
In such circumstances, one whale became icebound in the Bering Strait between Alaska and East Siberia. Russian and American ships were there, apparently in a too timely manner, and tried to rescue the whale. The American icebreaker first set out to rescue the whale while crushing the ice. The scene was filmed from a helicopter above the ocean.
However, whether a coincidence or not, the American icemaker was stranded, impeded by thick ice. The Russian icebreaker Ob found out what happened and made its way to rescue the American icebreaker and the whale, which eventually succeeded in saving the whale and the American icebreaker as well. The message is: “We are currently at a cold war but help each other in a case like this, to save one whale.”
The news footage was aired around the world as a praiseworthy episode of a rescue of a whale by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.
However, I would like you to give careful consideration here. In order to save the life of a single whale, an American icebreaker set out on a journey at enormous expense. The Ob of the U.S.S.R. also pitched in.
It certainly is a praiseworthy episode but is it really a good thing to do?
One whale living in a wild ocean becoming icebound is a natural phenomenon. It can be seen as the natural fate of a whale living in harsh nature.
Can a whale in this situation survive? Not likely. If it is left as it is, it will probably die. It is part of Nature’s laws. What is the reason for taking the trouble to rescue one whale for all that?
The amount of money spent on this whale rescue should translate to a few hundred million yen if converted to the current value. If they have that much money, it should be spent from a humanitarian perspective for the many children around the world who lose their lives, unable to eat even a handful of food because of poverty. That is, the action taken by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to rescue one whale could clearly be seen as a political show, or propaganda. It seems to me that behind this lies the original intention of the U.S. to make use of whales for improving her image. If shown this footage, a lot of people on earth, including the Japanese, may think, “Thank God the whale was rescued. I can’t eat whale meat anymore.” The point is that protecting the life of one whale could produce a peaceful and humanitarian image, which had a good effect of giving an impression to the whole world that America was a respectable country and the Soviet Union was a kindly country.
As you may know, the U.S. has always been involved in conflicts and wars to display the strength of a Great Power as the “World’s Policeman,” which is shown by how it participated in the Korean War immediately after the end of WWII, followed by the Vietnam War, Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the image of the U.S. that still remains today may be interpreted by the world as a hawk constantly involved in wars. With the Vietnam War, in particular, excessive attacks invited criticism from within and outside the country, the need to intervene was questioned and the tinge of the hawkish image of the U.S. grew even stronger.
Accordingly, they probably thought that, in order to divert and soften that perspective, broaching whales would be effective. Since around then, the catchphrase along the lines of “How can we save the global environment if we can’t save one whale?” started to be repeated loudly. On TV, footage started to be aired to show how whalers harpooned whales and they shed blood.
Furthermore, since around the time when the U.S. delegation brought up the issue of whales in the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972 as I mentioned in the previous chapter, the U.S. suddenly started to object to whaling. “Whales are the biggest creatures on the earth and a symbol of the planet. We cannot protect the entire earth without protecting them,” they said. In response, Yonezawa Kunio, who was an agent of the Fisheries Agency and present at the Conference as a member of the Japanese delegation at that time, made a comment.
“Among the purposes of the emphasis placed by the U.S. on the issue of whales in the Conference on the Human Environment was to avert attention from being directed to the Vietnam War. Prime Minister Palme of Sweden, the host country, had condemned the Operation Ranch Hand of the U.S. Air Force and announced previously that he would take it up in the Conference. The U.S. is an IWC member country but had never proposed a moratorium on whaling to the IWC until then. Nevertheless, they presented it as a subject for discussion in the Conference out of the blue, which can be viewed as a strategy for shifting the focus from the Vietnam War to whales.” (Excerpt from Dobutsu Hogo Undo no Kyozo (A Virtual Image of Animal Protection Movement) by Umezaki Yoshito)
It means that the U.S. was running a campaign for creating an impression on people around the world that they are a dove. This certainly should create a dovish image quite inexpensively.
That is not all. Umezaki Yoshito, an agricultural and marine journalist, says that the U.S. government “had already known that a moratorium on whaling was unnecessary from a scientific viewpoint as well” in advance. It was two months before the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. The U.S. had already decided to raise an issue of whales in the Conference on the Human Environment and, for building theoretical backing, called specialists in whales to the House of Representatives and held a public hearing on the issue of whales.
However, contrary to the expectations of the U.S. government, two scientists clearly testified that “a blanket moratorium on whaling was scientifically unnecessary.” One of the two scientists is J. L. McHugh, who was Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the IWC at that time.
Still, despite this testimony by leading American whale specialists, the U.S. Senate and House of the Representatives passed the “joint resolution on a 10-year moratorium on commercial whaling,” which was submitted to the Conference on the Human Environment. In other words, the U.S., although totally unreasonable, politically made use of whales and got their own way by force.
Bashing Japan, the “whale killer”
As the third reason why anti-whaling countries object to catching whales, many think that racist ideology may have been in the background.
The first person who suggested it is Yamamoto Shichihei, a man of just argument. In 1975, Yamamoto went to the U.S. on the occasion of Emperor Showa’s visit to the country and interviewed people in various fields. At the time of this visit, “whale demonstrations” to the Emperor were held on a large scale in the U.S., in which placards were put up that read, for example, “STOP MURDERING WHALE” and “PEOPLE OF JAPAN, SAVE WHALES.”
Before that in the U.S., Japanese nationals and ethnic Japanese are said to have been accused of being “whale killers” and discriminated against and even boycotts of Japanese products staged.
Accordingly, Yamamoto had obtained a promise from Mr. Burns, President of the National Audubon Society, which was the organizer of the demonstrations, to meet to discuss the issue directly.
Yamamoto was vaguely aware that what was behind the whale demonstrations was neither “wildlife conservation” nor “resource security” but was not sure if it was racism.
That is, if the way of thinking of Americans about opposition to whaling is “Save whales from extinction” → “Prohibit whaling” → “Whales are caught by Russians and Japanese” → “Therefore, demand ban or restriction on whaling from both Japan and the U.S.S.R.,” it is not racism. If this was the case, discussion excluding racism would hold and he was thinking of asserting to Burns as follows:
(1) The Russians only needed whale oil and part of that whale oil was intended for missiles, which can be regarded as military demand.
(2) To the Japanese, however, whales are a source of protein and essential food, which is simply peaceful use.
(3) Therefore, ban on whaling should first be demanded of the U.S.S.R. for the benefit of the U.S.
(4) Suppose there is a person who kills cattle only to get beef tallow and throws the meat away and another person who uses the meat to eat. Which one do you think has the right to use cattle? If there were peoples on earth with the right to hunt whales to the end, they should be Japanese and Inuit.
Then Yamamoto obtained a promise through the Asahi Shimbun Company to meet for discussion before leaving Japan, phoned from Washington, D.C. to confirm the date and time of the discussion again and left for New York, the location of the discussion. However, when he made a phone call after arriving in New York to say that he was on his way, the secretary answered to tell him that “urgent business arose and Mr. Burns was on the road and not available.”
He was obliged to interview those related to whaling and wildlife protection groups instead and felt that the issue of whaling was certainly a manifestation of racism. It is because the line of thought proceeded in the order: “Japanese” → “whale killer” → “bad people” → “boycott of Japanese products” → “rejection of the Japanese.”
The following, although somewhat long” is an excerpt from Yamamoto’s work entitled “Nihonjin to Amerikajin (The Japanese and the Americans),” which includes important points.
At an elementary school, a conventional caricature of a Japanese with “a round face and glasses” is made on a blackboard together with a caption reading “Whale killer” to boycott a Japanese elementary school child. Even worse, there was a case in which a child was called a “whale-killing Japanese” and punched.
A three-year-old Japanese girl was given a remark “You are evil” by an older girl and, when she asked why she was evil in return, she was told, “Because you are a whale killer.” (omitted)
The racist way of thinking “Japanese → whale killer → bad people” has now spread to the sphere of children. (omitted)
“Save whales” and “Boycott Japanese products” are slogans, under which products to be rejected are listed with Toyota at the top. The U.S.S.R. is mentioned, all right, which is no more than a pretext, hence no “rejection of Russians.” Behind this was labor unions’ scheming and fundraising taking advantage of the campaign as well and the idea is the same as how they interned only Japanese Americans during WWII and left Germans intact, which is what Wayne Horiuchi (note: then President of the Washington D.C. Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League) said.
The Japanese American Citizens League naturally stroke back (again I heard complaints of discontent from Sansei and Yonsei that “Nisei don’t say anything in a case like this”), which was covered in a big way by The Los Angeles Times with phrases such as “Japanese fear whale ‘reaction.’” The Plain Dealer of Ohio run President Sugiyama’s protest and a Chinese newspaper reprinted an anti-Japanese cartoon of “whale-killing Japanese” and run the protest from the Japanese and comments of Mr. Uno (note: Nisei Japanese who wrote The History of the U.S.-Japan Negotiations) and the Society of “Active Asian Citizens” warns that boycotting Japanese products is transformation of frustration into attitudes toward Japan and the Japanese—“witch-hunting” type of a way, so to speak—intended for averting citizens’ attention from the essence of the issue.
I cannot help seeing this as a phenomenon exactly as described by the Society of “Active Asian Citizens”: What is behind the placards such as those reading “STOP MURDERING WHALE” and “PEOPLE OF JAPAN, SAVE WHALES” aimed at the Emperor is hostility toward the Japanese, or “a shade of WWII.”
“Still, isn’t it partly because of insufficient of publicity on the part of Japan? Wouldn’t Americans be convinced if we told them whales are a source of protein?” So I said and shared Mr. Horiuchi my theory of comparison between “people who use whales as a source of protein” and “people who use cattle and whales only for oil and tallow,” which I mentioned earlier. “Well, what they say is eating whales is not good.” “What?” “There is a rumor that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has banned imports of canned whale meat…” It is said that, once abroad, Japanese all become “patriots” but I was somewhat infuriated by the time I reached this stage.
Nobody can object to the banner of “animal protection” and “resource security.” Why, then, does he take an awfully unfair attitude of running away despite the promise made? Isn’t it an aberrant behavior as an American?
In the past, there was discrimination of various ethnicities in the U.S. There was discrimination against the Irish and Jews, not to mention African-Americans, and exclusion of the Japanese represented by the ant-Japanese law.
After all, these whale demonstrations provided an outlet for Americans to use to vent their deep-rooted anti-Japanese sentiment.
In addition to the U.S., Australia and European countries also bashed Japan, saying that whale eaters were barbarians. In those days, whales were hunted by countries such as the U.S.S.R., Norway and Spain as well as Japan but Japan was always the only target of bashing.
Umezaki Yoshito mentioned above says that, at the IWC Annual Meeting held in London in June 1978, anti-whaling group members poured red ink over the Japanese delegation, together with jeers such as, “Whale killer!” “Barbarians!” and “This is the blood of the whale you killed!” This is very similar to how the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has now become a problem due to the terrorist attacks against Japanese research whalers, throws bottles of chemicals and fire-bombs at research ships. At the meeting, there were also delegations of whaling countries of white people as I mentioned earlier but only the delegation of Japan, a whaling country of colored people, became the target.
After all, it may be that white people cannot accept “a yellow race eating intelligent (whether this is true or not is unknown) whales”
Anti-whaling campaign on a pay TV channel
Another symbol of Japanese bashing that started in the 1970s was dolphins.
In fact, the Japanese ate quite a lot of dolphins until 1960s and 1970s. In particular, dolphins came in schools to the Goto Archipelago, Nagasaki Prefecture, Kyushu and dolphin hunting have long been very popular in that area. Dolphins are cetaceans but they are not subject to the IWC’s hunting regulations.
To describe how to catch dolphins, first, dolphins in a school in the open sea are driven to the shore using boats. Then, the dolphins with no more way out come ashore, which are hand-harpooned. The large amounts of blood gush out of the dolphins to stain the beach red.
At one time, scenes of this hunting were photographed and reported to the world as “Japanese slaughter of dolphins.” It was quite effective. It left an impression that Japanese, who club intelligent and cute dolphins to death, and eat them at that, were a barbaric people.
In 2009, the OPS (Oceanic Preservation Society), an American organization to promote protection of whales and dolphins, produced a documentary film called The Cove. The “cove” here refers to Taiji Town, Wakayama Prefecture, which holds a central position in the history of whaling in Japan. In Taiji, dolphin hunts take place every September.
In the movie, dolphin hunting was filmed with hidden cameras and depicted sensationally to emphasize what barbaric acts Japanese were committing. In addition, the Japanese government’s claims and activities at the IWC were portrayed in a nasty way. This movie won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature on the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, which aroused opposition from people of Taiji. Anti-whaling campaigns like this that use images are going on even today and a world-famous cable TV station specialized in wildlife documentaries is playing a role of a major supporter of anti-whaling groups to air shows that strongly criticize Japanese dolphin hunting, research whaling and coastal whaling (all of which are capture permitted by the IWC). They are attempting to use those shows to form international opinion that whales should be pitied and wild animals should be protected.
Is it all right for people to eat livestock as long as it is raised by themselves?
In this way, Japanese research whaling and dolphin hunting have been bashed since 1970s to this day but how about wild animal hunting by other countries?
In Canada, 20,000 wild seals are clubbed to death annually even now to sell their skin and fur. How should this be taken?
The Canadian government, which is strongly opposing the EU for imposing embargo on seal products, claims that some of their northern people earn their bread and butter by seal hunting and it cannot be helped.
The U.S. used to hunt large numbers of whales but stopped whaling because of oil excavation. However, what they never stopped since the pioneering days is reckless hunting of bison. They were excessively hunted for meat and skin, which led to a sharp decrease in the population of bison. Bison were said to live in millions but their population once decreased to a little more than 500 in the whole of the U.S., on the verge of extinction. Subsequently, the number recovered to a few ten thousand thanks to the policy of protection but the slaughter is said to have been ferocious.
In Australia, a leading advocate of anti-whaling countries, wild animals such as kangaroos, camels, wallabies and dingoes are killed for food even now.
In the U.S. and parts of Europe more inclined to be against whaling, wild deer and hares are eaten openly as game dishes.
Anyhow, they also hunt wild animals to eat but, to Japan, they tell not to kill whales. Changing opinions according the situation like this seems too “convenient” to me.
Furthermore, how about the cattle, swine and sheep that they eat every day? Is it not cruel to kill and eat as long as the animals are livestock?
To this, those against whaling argue back: “Livestock is a resource we manage and we raise them for food. Therefore, we can treat their lives as we please. However, whales live in nature and cannot be treated freely.” Then, I asked them a question.
“You mean that you can eat what you have raised by yourselves. Suppose, then, a marine stock farm was built in the ocean to breed whales to raise and eat them. Would it not be cruel?”
They answered unanimously that “it would not be cruel.” Now, does it not mean that they also think whales can be treated as food depending on the situation?
In the first place, it makes no sense to think which is cruel. Every creature has just one life. Is it ever possible to compare that only one valuable life with another and say that it is all right to eat cattle but not whales because lives of whales are heavier? Is it what the “weight of life” is all about? Lives of creatures cannot be treated differently from each other.
No matter what creature is killed and eaten, it is naturally cruel and pitiable. If that is so, I think the idea of making the most of the creature thoroughly with gratitude and respect after taking its life is sounder. I wonder if anybody shares my perception that eating entirely while appreciating the lives of creatures sacrificed, which is an attitude of the Japanese of former days, is much more natural.
Australian national broadcaster asking if it is OK to kill Japanese
On March 9, 2008, Fuji Television’s news show called Shin Hodo Premier A presented shocking footage made by an Australian broadcaster.
It was a broadcast on July 14, 2006 entitled Harpooning Japanese of a popular satirical show called The Chaser’s War on Everything produced by an Australian public broadcaster and it included sarcastic remarks about Japanese whaling.
A reporter interviews the (then) Japanese Ambassador Hideaki Ueda without permission on the premises of the Japanese Embassy in Australia and asked questions such as, “Would you agree that we’ve got to kill a couple of Japanese people for research purposes?” To Ambassador Ueda, who naturally got angry, the reporter went on to ask:
“Er, just to, you know, further understand Japanese people. I mean we’ve done a lot but if we were able to kill a few of them, we might go to understand more like about their pregnancy rates or their feeding patterns.”
In person-on-the-street interviews that followed, the same reporter asked a few Japanese passing along a street questions such as, “Can I kill you for research purposes?” “Can I harpoon you?” “You didn’t die. How am I gonna learn about you now?”
In Australia, an awful show like this is produced and aired by a national broadcaster.
Sea Shepherd developing into a terrorist group
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), an anti-whaling organization, disturbed Japanese research whalers and created a sensation this year (2010) again.
The SSCS is an American environment conservation group and radically anti-whaling. Paul Watson, President, was a co-founder of an international environmental conservation group Greenpeace. However, his attitude of not hesitating to resort to force for persisting in his own view stood out even within Greenpeace, which in the end caused him to be ousted from the organization. Accordingly, he teamed up with a few other extremists who share the same idea with him to organize a violent group, which is the SSCS.
Anyway, the SSCS considers it right to commit terrorist acts to achieve their purposes and uses extreme and illegal violence such as opening fire on whalers and their crew and ramming their protest vessels into whalers to sink them and its members in fact have been arrested or wanted internationally. They call themselves eco-terrorists and the flags they put up always bear a horrific skull.
During research whaling from 2007 to 2008, SSCS members threw more than 100 bottles of foul-smelling butyric acid and packages of white powder onto a Japanese research whaler, which injured the eyes of three people including Coast Guard officers. In addition, fire-bombs thrown onto the research vessel caused a fire in part of the hull. Strenuous firefighting stopped the fire from leading to a serious situation but, if this fire had spread, it would have resulted in a terrible disaster, which they intended. They also rammed their obstruction ship into a research vessel and entangled the vessel’s propeller with a rope to hinder its movement. Furthermore, they threw bottles of butyric acid onto a Japanese research vessel Nisshin Maru and two members of the vessel’s crew underwent treatment (February 9, 2007). A Japanese sighting vessel Kaiko Maru was rammed by a protest ship, which damaged the sighting vessel’s propeller (February 12, 2007). Members of the SSCS threw bottles of chemicals onto a sighting/sampling vessel Yushin Maru No. 2, released ropes around the vessel in an attempt to foul the vessel’s propeller, when two activists were temporarily detained (January 17, 2008). These are a few examples of the terrorist acts they committed as they pleased and, in the end, they went so far as to point possibly blinding lasers from a high-powered laser pointer at the face of the crew of a research vessel.
In 2009, for the purpose of intensifying their sabotage activities against Japanese research whaling, they introduced Ady Gil, a high-speed trimaran, made use of it together with their existing protest ship Steve Irwin and a helicopter to carry out relentless sabotage activities against research whalers in the Antarctic Ocean. This Ady Gil is said to be equipped with a 1,080 hp engine and make as much as 50 knots. It is easily capable of approaching a whaling fleet sailing at 16 knots for obstruction.
December 17, 2009
Steve Irwin pointed what appeared to be high-powered lasers to the crew of Shonan Maru No. 2. (All of the following photos courtesy of the Institute of Cetacean Research)
December 22, 2009
SSCS activist (Paul Watson) throwing bottles of butyric acid to Shonan Maru No. 2.
December 23, 2009
Ady Gil, a new ship of the SSCS, towing a rope aiming at propellers of Shonan Maru No. 2.
December 23, 2009
Activist on Ady Gil aiming a launcher-like cannon.
January 6, 2010
SSCS activists aiming a launcher and a camera and a man apparently on the shooting crew of a cable broadcaster.
January 8, 2010
Ady Gil wrecked and fuel oil spilled (behind Ady Gil). Ady Gil’s hatch is open, suggesting the intention of scuttling.
February 11, 2010
Activist on Steve Irwin using a launcher to fire chemical projectiles at the main research vessel Nisshin Maru. (man on the leftmost holding a launcher).
February 11, 2010
Steve Irwin firing a rocket at research vessel Yushin Mar.
February 16, 2010
Steve Irwin using water cannons to spray water at the main research vessel Nisshin Maru while shooting with a video camera.
On January 6, 2010, an incident occurred where Ady Gil and a Japanese security vessel Shonan Maru No. 2 collided in the Antarctic Ocean.
While the Shonan Maru No. 2 side claimed that Ady Gil crossed its path, the SSCS said that it was completely stationary, when the other vessel rammed into it.
This collision seriously damaged the bow of Ady Gil, crippling the ship. The SSCS announced that Ady Gil had sunk but it had in fact been abandoned and drifting in the ocean (see Photo 6). From the ship, fuel oil was left spilling to contaminate the ocean inhabited by whales.
Again, the SSCS had engaged in dangerous activities to obstruct the movement of the vessel using ropes until immediately before the collision. In addition, they conducted direct acts of aggression such as firing a lethal crossbow into the hull, throwing foul-smelling bags onto the deck and shining lasers hazardous to the eye, against which Shonan Maru No. 2 stood with a water cannon and other measures.
After the incident of the collision, the SSCS released a video of the moment of the collision as evidence and applied to the Australian government for protection, which was not accepted. In the form of response to this, footage took by Shonan Maru No. 2 was also released.
In addition to Ady Gil, the SSCS introduced a protest ship Bob Barker starting this year (2010). This Bob Barker flew a flag of Norway, a whaling country, in order to disguise its nationality for making Japanese fleets of whalers mistake it for a Norwegian ship to facilitate approach and was sailing in the Antarctic Ocean. On January 6, it obstructed the course of Nisshin Maru, the mother vessel of the fleet, came abnormally close to it and committed dangerous acts such as shining green lasers.
/*Disguising the nationality of a vessel constitutes a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which establishes the rules of navigation in international waters, and the Japanese government offered to the Norwegian government the photos and videos shot to call for a protest against the SSCS. In response, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a note of protest to the SSCS.
Nevertheless, the SSCS did not stop committing violative acts.
On February 6, they disguised the nationality of the ship again, ignoring the warning from the Norwegian government, to repeatedly come abnormally close to Nisshin Maru, the mother vessel of the Japanese fleet engaged in research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean.
Then, they repeated sabotage activities such as shining lasers that may cause loss of eyesight if it hits the eye. Furthermore, they rapidly approached Yushin Maru No. 3 in order to throw bottles of hazardous liquid onto it and collided with Yushin Maru No. 3. Fortunately, it did not cause any major damage to the hull of the vessel and the crew were not injured.
On February 15, a New Zealander, the former captain of Ady Gil, approached Shonan Maru No. 2 on a jet ski and cut through the protective netting and trespassed on the vessel. Shonan Maru No. 2 held him in custody according to the Mariners Act and, on March 12, when the vessel entered the Port of Harumi, Tokyo, the Japan Coast Guard arrested him on a charge of trespassing on vessel.
Because of these sabotage activities, the results of Japanese research whaling have been limited to about 60% of the targets in the last two years.
Japan claims that these acts are equivalent to piracy and is making a protest to the Dutch government, which gives vessel nationality to the SSCS, and is appealing to New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. for banning them from calling at ports.
These outrageous illegal acts of the SSCS started to invite criticism that they were going overboard even from the media of anti-whaling countries, which are usually hypercritical of Japanese research whaling.
An Australian newspaper ran an editorial with a heading that read “Hysterics on the high seas will never halt whaling” to encourage the media and politicians supporting the SSCS to control themselves and called for realization of the ban on whaling through diplomacy and discussion.
Major Sabotage Activities by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (December 2009 to February 2010)
Dec. 17 Steve Irwin approached Shonan Maru No. 2 and shone green beams that appeared to be lasers
Steve Irwin shone lasers at Shonan Maru No. 2 and while spraying water and threw bottles of butyric acid onto Shonan Maru No. 2 while towing a rope
Dec. 23 Ady Gil towed a rope while sailing abnormally close to Shonan Maru No. 2 and shone green beams that appeared to be lasers
Jan. 6 Ady Gil towed a rope at Nisshin Maru, the main research vessel. Around 12:30 JST, Ady Gil collided with research vessel Shonan Maru No. 2. Ady Gil, seriously damaged, was abandoned and left drifting.
Jan. 15 Activists aboard an inflatable boat belonging to Bob Barker towed a rope attempting to entangle the Shonan Maru No. 2 rudder and propeller while sailing across in front of the vessel and hurled smoke bombs toward the vessel
Feb. 6 Bob Barker approached abnormally close from the stern of Nisshin Maru, the main research vessel, and used a slingshot to launch butyric acid-containing projectiles against Shonan Maru No. 2
Feb. 8 Steve Irwin approached abnormally close to the main research vessel Nisshin Maru
Feb. 9 Steve Irwin activists used loudspeakers to broadcast classical music near the main research vessel Nisshin Maru
Feb. 11 Steve Irwin activists launch-fired chemical projectiles against Nisshin Maru and Steve Irwin almost rammed Nisshin Maru
Feb. 13 Steve Irwin attacked the main research vessel Nisshin Maru
Feb. 14 Bob Barker attacked the main research vessel Nisshin Maru with lasers
Feb. 15 Pete Bethune, the former captain of Ady Gil, approached Shonan Maru No. 2 on a jet ski and trespassed on the vessel. The former captain was held in custody according to the Mariners Act. On March 12, Shonan Maru No. 2 entered the Port of Harumi, Tokyo and the Japan Coast Guard arrested him on a charge of trespassing on vessel
Feb. 16 Steve Irwin fired numerous ball-shaped projectiles against the main research vessel Nisshin Maru
Feb. 17 Steve Irwin activists used a large launcher on an inflatable boat to fire projectiles containing butyric acid
Feb. 21 Flagless ship Bob Barker made an attack with illegal lasers
Feb. 24 Activists aboard an inflatable boat belonging to Bob Barker used a launcher to fire bottles of chemicals at Yushin Maru No. 3
(Made mainly based on articles released by the Institute of Cetacean Research)
Furthermore, the editorial comments on the activities of the SSCS to conclude that “its behavior is arrogant and unreasonable” and severely criticizes how the organization sticks at nothing to gain its end.
When Shonan Maru No. 2 was attacked with bottles of liquid suspected to be butyric acid fired with a launcher, the liquid splashed on three crew members to cause injury. The U.S. media that covered this news said that the Japanese research whaling was permitted internationally and the whales caught by the Japanese were mostly minke whales, not an endangered species. In this way, the media coverage is changing to be critical of the escalating behavior of the SSCS.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace, which may seem to be hidden behind the SSCS, also constantly continues its sabotage activities including use of a ship called Esperanza to chase Nisshin Maru, the main research vessel of Japan, for 24 hours.
To begin with, once they depart, fleets of research whaling keep moving in the ocean for as long as half a year to do research so that their locations will not be identified by those protest ships. Even so, they are easily located by Greenpeace and the SSCS in the vast Antarctic Ocean. Why?
As one theory, anti-whaling countries are suspected of giving information behind the scenes to “environmental terrorist groups” such as the SSCS. It is said to be because the Australian government, for example, has strong connections with these groups. The ruling and opposition parties have jointly declared support for the SSCS, Ian Campbell, the former Environment Minister of Australia, has joined the International Advisory Board for the SSCS and Environment Minister Peter Garrett (in charge of anti-whaling initiative) is a former board member of Greenpeace. The annual funds for activities of the SSCS is about 3.5 million dollars, which are said to be financed by donations from supporters and supporting corporations.
Whaling issues are now developing into diplomatic and international issues. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who assumed office with a pledge to take an anti-whaling stance, went so far as to say to Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada when he visited Australia for the Japan-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that Australia would bring Japan to international court unless Japan stopped whaling by November 2010.
“Australia would work with the Japanese to reduce, through negotiation, their current catch to zero. If that fails, then we will initiate that court action before the commencement of the whaling season in November 2010.”
In the subsequent Japan-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, while a recognition was shared that violent acts of the SSCS should not be permitted, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith again demanded Japan to suspend research whaling and left an unpleasant aftertaste saying that there was a clear disagreement in opinion over research whaling.
On the other hand, PM Rudd’s remark about legal action raised criticism from parties other than Japan as well.
The Sankei Shimbun says that Philip Bowring of The International Herald Tribune expressed a criticism in his column that Australia scarcely had the right to complain about whaling when it shot 3 million wild kangaroos.
He also gives analysis that the tone of moral superiority in Mr. Rudd’s remark grates on many Asians by invoking their feeling of hatred toward the Western colonialism that still smolders and may hurt the image of Australia rather than Japan.
Bowring says that Norway always refused to accept IWC restrictions, Iceland once walked out of the IWC and Canada left and has not returned but at least Japan still belongs to the IWC, showing his understanding of Japan, and describes Mr. Rudd’s remarks as antics that discourage whaling countries from cooperating with the IWC.
Furthermore, he writes: “Harpooning whales may be cruel and does excite emotions even among those who regularly eat red meat. But Australia is in scant position to complain when it shoots upward of 3 million wild kangaroos a year to protect crops and grazing for sheep and cattle.” It is followed by his assertion that “Australia’s elevation of its selective emotion into a diplomatic feud with its major Asian ally is nothing short of ridiculous.”
This can be regarded as an exceptional case in which a major medium of the U.S., an anti-whaling country, ran a column like this but it may show that more people have begun to realize what hypocritical and unreasonable logic is presented by anti-whaling countries.
Are people of anti-whaling countries against whaling?
Up to now, anti-whaling countries have worked to halt commercial whaling in a nationwide manner. Let me show you an interesting questionnaire survey here.
This is an opinion poll of the citizens of the U.S. U.K., France and Australia, which are leading anti-whaling countries, taken from 1997 to 1998 by Responsive Management, an American private corporation.
“The minke whale is not endangered and the IWC estimates there to be 1 million minke whales worldwide. Please tell me if you would support or oppose the harvest of minke whales if you knew the harvested whales would be used for food; the harvest of minke whales is an aspect of the culture for some nations and for some groups of people; and the harvest of minke whales would be regulated by the IWC which would set a worldwide limit on the number of whales to be harvested each year to ensure there would be no impact on the overall minke whale population numbers.”
Here are the surprising results:
Strongly oppose: U.S. 11%, U.K. 19%, France 12%, Australia 28%
Oppose: U.S. 8%, U.K. 12%, France 15%, Australia 12%
Neither support nor oppose: U.S. 10%, U.K. 8%, France 11%, Australia 6%
Support: U.S. 51%, U.K. 45%, France 52%, Australia 42%
Strongly support: U.S. 20%, U.K. 16%, France 11%, Australia 11
That is, those who support whaling combining “Support” and “Strongly support” gain a majority in all of the countries surveyed: 71% in the U.S., 61% in the U.K., 63% in France and 53% in Australia.
In this way, when the question is asked based on the provision of scientific data, those who are tolerant of whale meat-eating amounts to as much as 70% in the U.S. In any of Australia, France and the U.K. the most steadfast anti-whaling countries, the number of people supportive of whaling exceeded that of those who do not.
In addition, CNN of the U.S. and BBC of the U.K., which are news media representative of the West, conducted an online survey during the period of the Shimonoseki Meeting of the IWC in May, 2002.
“Do you think that commercial whaling should reintroduced?”
CNN (Valid votes: 24,457 in total) BBC (Valid votes: 30,184 in total)
Yes (Support) (61%) Yes (Support) (65.95%)
No (Oppose) (39%) No (Oppose) (33.04%)
While the countries have been taking an anti-whaling stance as a national policy, over 60% of their people are supportive of the resumption of whaling, which is a more astonishing than interesting result.
I would like the governments and their delegations of anti-whaling countries and people of environmental groups to squarely face the reality like this, instead of focusing on national policies, and study better ways of protecting resources.
Interest in whales growing in Japan
Then, how is the situation in Japan?
The Survey on the Whaling Issue conducted by the Cabinet Office in 2001 showed a result that as much as 75.5% of the Japanese supported “sustainable use of cetaceans based on scientific grounds.” In addition, the percentage of respondents who approved of “surveying the effect of predation by whales on fishing resources” was 81.3%. Clearly, the Japanese people express high support for sustainable use of whales.
Furthermore, in November 2006, Internet giant Yahoo! Japan held an online poll.
Of the 21,221 respondents to this poll, 19,001, or 90%, agreed with sustainable commercial whaling and 2,220, or 10%, opposed.
Cabinet Office “Survey on the Whaling Issue” (Conducted in December 2012)
(Respondents: 5,000 men and women nationwide 20 years of age or over)
○Pros and cons of whaling by various countries based on scientific grounds
Do you support whaling by various countries, on condition that minke whales, which are abundant in resource, are caught within the specified limits and management is implemented based on scientific grounds to prevent adverse effects on whale resources?
More support than oppose 29.7%
More oppose than support 6.6%
○Need for cetacean research whaling along the coast of Japan
Fish catches along the coast of Japan are decreasing recently. Do you find it necessary to scientifically investigate along the coast of Japan the effect of dolphins and whales, which feed on Pacific sauries and squids, on fishery resources?
Necessary (necessary for fishery management) 53.8%
More necessary than not 27.5%
More unnecessary than not 4.1%
Unnecessary (unnecessary even for fishery management) 2.8%
There may be an influence of displeasure of the extreme demonstration attacks repeated
every year by environmental groups but, unlike peoples inclined to focus on exciting aspects of things or behave hysterically, the Japanese may have emotional characteristic and stability that allow perceiving carefully without haste.
These figures may indicate that many Japanese are giving serious consideration to the actual circumstances of food currently surrounding Japan and the ethnically peculiar food culture.