#1
Whales hunting in Japan: what is your opinion? They're talking about it in my local news channel and I wonder how much of what they say is true and how much of it is exaggerated and taken out of context.
Not that I want to blindly defend Japan about this, but as I know how manipulated are the news in my cowntry (see the chinese and dogs eating topic)...
Edited: 2017-04-01, 2:00 pm
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#2
From my next to nothing understanding of it, they supposedly hunt whales under the guise of research. I personally don't care about eating whale or not (I might try it when I go to Japan, but I don't know if I want to eat that much mercury at once), but if they are hunting under the guise of research, I think that's a little scummy.

From someone who lives in an area with lots of hunting and farming culture, I really can't be bothered with the moral 'they're living, feeling beings too!' arguments, but whales do have really low reproduction rates and were heavily hunted for oil just a short time ago, so I can understand that stance against it. Sustainable hunting is important.

I know that there is definitely exaggeration by the environmentalists, because whale isn't constantly eaten in Japan like they make it seem (and from what I've heard from a couple of Japanese, whale is far from a popular food item, and is very expensive), but I'm not up on the facts of how they actually go about whaling, so I don't know how many of their claims about the shady practices are true.
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#3
From my next to nothing understanding of it, they supposedly hunt whales under the guise of research. I personally don't care about eating whale or not (I might try it when I go to Japan, but I don't know if I want to eat that much mercury at once), but if they are hunting under the guise of research, I think that's a little scummy.

From someone who lives in an area with lots of hunting and farming culture, I really can't be bothered with the moral 'they're living, feeling beings too!' arguments, but whales do have really low reproduction rates and were heavily hunted for oil just a short time ago, so I can understand that stance against it. Sustainable hunting is important.

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Japan is a party to a treaty that established an international organization to regulate whaling, called the International Whaling Commission.

The IWC was meant to regulate whaling, to make sure the whale population remains healthy. But, in 1986, they decided to ban commercial whaling instead. That left Japan with two realistic options:
1. object to the decision, which, under the rules of the original treaty would've allowed them to continue their commercial whaling programs.
2. don't object to the decision, but instead use the "research" loophole to continue whaling without violating IWC rules.

Japan went with option no. 1 for a few years, but, eventually, the US government (the Reagan administration) pressured them (by threatening other, more important Japanese economic interests) into going with option no. 2 instead. So that's where we are today.

They didn't choose to use this loophole instead of continuing their commercial whaling programs, the US forced them into it. If there's anything scummy going on here, it's on the part of the US, which saw fit to impose its own, very much questionable, views on the morality of whaling on an allied nation.
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JapanesePod101
#4
The Japanese government agreed to stop whaling, and didn't. I guess if people agree with the goals, pressuring another government is fine. Otherwise, people label it as "scummy". Name-calling doesn't add much value to a conversation. The issues involved are not just morality, but also the status of some species of whales and dolphins as very endangered animals. If you look at what gets sold as "whale" in Japan, you'd find that a lot of it is not from the species of whales that the Japanese government claims to hunt. Exactly what's being caught and by whom is unclear, but their "science program" claim is false, and that program is used as a path for a wide range of animals to be killed and sold, including endangered species.
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#5
From what I understand, its mostly older people who eat it, so hopefully its an issue that will just die out with time. Hopefully before the whales all do.
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#6
(2017-04-01, 4:30 pm)bertoni Wrote: The Japanese government agreed to stop whaling, and didn't. 

That's not true. But you're welcome to prove me wrong, by providing the text of this supposed agreement, and the details of when it was signed.

(2017-04-01, 4:50 pm)Zarxrax Wrote: From what I understand, its mostly older people who eat it, so hopefully its an issue that will just die out with time. Hopefully before the whales all do.
Currently, the Japanese whale hunting program kills 300 minke whales per year.

The estimated minke whale population is over 500,000. There is no danger whatsoever of Japanese whale hunting causing their extinction.

(2017-04-01, 4:30 pm)bertoni Wrote: Exactly what's being caught and by whom is unclear

That's because the ban on whaling has created a black market.There's an easy way to solve that problem: lift the ban, and allow consumer demand to be met through legal means. That would allow sustainable hunting.

Japan is very good at keeping the natural resources they depend on sustainable. If the western dogooders decided to mind their own business, Japan would be able to protect whale species far better than they can.
Edited: 2017-04-01, 6:30 pm
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#7
(2017-04-01, 4:50 pm)Zarxrax Wrote: From what I understand, its mostly older people who eat it, so hopefully its an issue that will just die out with time. Hopefully before the whales all do.

In the documentary about dolphin hunting and eating in Japan, I believe in the end they found it was sold as cheap meat for elementary school lunch programs
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#8
(2017-04-01, 6:17 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: >That's not true. But you're welcome to prove me wrong, by providing the
>text of this supposed agreement, and the details of when it was signed.


Yes, it is true, when they joined the IWC they agreed to follow the terms of the convention.  They haven't followed the terms, nor have they quit the IWC.


(2017-04-01, 4:50 pm)Zarxrax Wrote: From what I understand, its mostly older people who eat it, so hopefully its an issue that will just die out with time. Hopefully before the whales all do.
>Currently, the Japanese whale hunting program kills 300 minke whales per year.

>The estimated minke whale population is over 500,000. There is no
>danger whatsoever of Japanese whale hunting causing their extinction.

We know what the Japanese claim to hunt, but we don't know what they actually are hunting.  Somehow, they end up with other cetaceans in the market.  Hmmm.


(2017-04-01, 4:30 pm)bertoni Wrote: Exactly what's being caught and by whom is unclear

>That's because the ban on whaling has created a black market.There's an easy
>way to solve that problem: lift the ban, and allow consumer demand to be met
>through legal means. That would allow sustainable hunting.

That's your opinion, but I disagree entirely.  There's no reason to believe that legalizing more whale hunting would end illegal hunting of other species.  Actually, that idea makes no sense at all.  In addition, I don't think there's any consumer demand.  The hunting seems to be largely for form.

>Japan is very good at keeping the natural resources they depend on sustainable.
>If the western dogooders decided to mind their own business, Japan would be able
>to protect whale species far better than they can.

The Japanese whale hunt was never sustainable in the days before the IWC.  Visit South Georgia, and you can see and hear about whaling in some detail.  The bluefin tuna harvest isn't sustainable, either, although they mostly aren't doing that directly, I believe.  
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#9
(2017-04-02, 1:42 am)bertoni Wrote: In addition, I don't think there's any consumer demand. The hunting seems to be largely for form.

Eh, what?

Unless you want to claim that whaling is some kind of trophy hunting, and I did not see any evidence of that, what you just said is pure economic nonsense. If there is no demand, nobody would bother to whale and loose money in the process.
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#10
From what I heard from an older fellow, whale meat used to be really cheap, and he used to eat it all the time as school lunch. But then after a while, with the ban and all, it started becoming expensive. I think that explains why mostly older people still eat whale, since many of them have probably grown up with it.
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#11
(2017-04-01, 6:17 pm)Stansfield123 Wrote: That's because the ban on whaling has created a black market.There's an easy way to solve that problem: lift the ban, and allow consumer demand to be met through legal means. That would allow sustainable hunting.

Japan is very good at keeping the natural resources they depend on sustainable. If the western dogooders decided to mind their own business, Japan would be able to protect whale species far better than they can.

Right, because the free market has been so successful at limiting the overfishing of the Bluefin Tuna.

The free market is crap at regulating it self in situations where the Tragedy of the Commons is concerned.
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#12
(2017-04-02, 2:52 am)Robik Wrote:
(2017-04-02, 1:42 am)bertoni Wrote: In addition, I don't think there's any consumer demand.  The hunting seems to be largely for form.

Eh, what?

Unless you want to claim that whaling is some kind of trophy hunting, and I did not see any evidence of that, what you just said is pure economic nonsense. If there is no demand, nobody would bother to whale and loose money in the process.

It's more a national pride thing, as I understand it. There's nowhere near enough demand to make sending a fleet down to Antarctica to kill whales every year economically viable. Most of the meat just sits in freezers. I'm sure it was a reasonable thing once, but these days it seems more like a statement of Japanese identity that plays well with the nationalist side of politics.

This is not something I say very often but ... the free market could actually solve this problem. It's a government venture and absolute economic nonsense. If the government stopped propping up the industry, it wouldn't exist.
Edited: 2017-04-02, 6:26 am
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#13
(2017-04-02, 1:42 am)bertoni Wrote: Yes, it is true, when they joined the IWC they agreed to follow the terms of the convention.  

Which, at the time, said commercial whaling is allowed. So it isn't true that they agreed to stop hunting whales. And you knew it's not true when you said it. Which makes you a? Anybody?

(2017-04-02, 6:25 am)Aikynaro Wrote: It's more a national pride thing, as I understand it. There's nowhere near enough demand to make sending a fleet down to Antarctica to kill whales every year economically viable.

This is not something I say very often but ... the free market could actually solve this problem. It's a government venture and absolute economic nonsense. If the government stopped propping up the industry, it wouldn't exist.
In a "free market", they wouldn't have to send a fleet down to Antarctica. They could hunt closer to Japan, or, even better, they could import the whale meat (I believe they do already import some of it from Iceland).

And by "free market" I don't mean that anybody would be allowed to hunt any whale they wish. Just because it's a free market doesn't mean that the government doesn't have a role to play in solving the tragedy of the commons. There would still need to be an international bodythat manages whale populations. But it would operate the way the IWC did before the enviro nuts took it over: by limiting hunting to sustainable levels, not by banning it.

And only countries where whaling is legal would be invited to participate in the treaty...countries that don't have any economic interest in whaling would instead be invited to mind their own business. The thing that went wrong with the current framework is that countries that have nothing to do with this issue are the ones making the decisions. So countries that do have an interest have either withdrawn from it (Norway, Iceland), are using loopholes to operate while following the letter of the IWC rules (Japan), or just leave it up to the black market to do its thing (it's unclear how many countries do this, and on what scale, but I'm sure it's bigger than we know).
Edited: 2017-04-02, 11:27 am
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#14
(2017-04-02, 11:06 am)Stansfield123 Wrote:
(2017-04-02, 1:42 am)bertoni Wrote: Yes, it is true, when they joined the IWC they agreed to follow the terms of the convention.  

Which, at the time, said commercial whaling is allowed. So it isn't true that they agreed to stop hunting whales. And you knew it's not true when you said it. Which makes you a? Anybody?
Your ad hominem attacks are inappropriate, to say the least.
When they agreed to join the IWC, they agreed to abide by its decisions, which include the subsequent ban on whaling.  It's a commission, not a static treaty.
I agree that the whale hunting is a national pride issue, as far as anyone can tell.  Very few people are willing to eat the meat.  There are lots of decisions in this world that are made on grounds other than economics.
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#15
just a note since the consumption rate of whale meat seems underestimated in this thread. We have whale at our local supermarket, i've seen it at the discount bin. I didn't get any, but it's quite cheap when they have it.

this survey says that about 30% of respondents have had it, it's not at all a rarity.
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#16
(2017-04-02, 8:59 pm)Zgarbas Wrote: just a note since the consumption rate of whale meat seems underestimated in this thread. We have whale at our local supermarket, i've seen it at the discount bin. I didn't get any, but it's quite cheap when they have it.

this survey says that about 30% of respondents have had it, it's not at all a rarity.

Ya, its not rare or a speciality like puffer fish. Its not even that good IMO. In my opinion the consumption figures are probably inflated since a lot of school districts started adding it to their menu on occasion -- this where I had it. So the government is doing its share to push the whale meat, which is stupid and not at all surprising considering how much the government has its hand in various industries.
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#17
(2017-04-02, 8:59 pm)Zgarbas Wrote: just a note since the consumption rate of whale meat seems underestimated in this thread. We have whale at our local supermarket, i've seen it at the discount bin. I didn't get any, but it's quite cheap when they have it.

this survey says that about 30% of respondents have had it, it's not at all a rarity.

Most of the respondents that said they had eaten it in provided meals were 30 years old or older (around 2/3 of the people that said they had). Respondents in their twenties reported having eaten whale in their school lunch at only a slightly lower rate than those thirty or above, but the twenties age category was the least represented in the entire survey (I didn't see any exact numbers in my quick run through the report, but I'd guess about 10% of the respondents were in their twenties, looking at the pie chart supplied at the beginning of the paper); considering this survey only had about a thousand respondents, that's not really a good representation of that age group (also not a great representation of the whole of Japan, at only 1000 people of unknown location, but there's the matter of practicality).

(Nag: I'm aggravated that their respondent data isn't more clear; I don't like guessing from graphics; a simple bar or line graph would have been enough; heck, they could have just put percentages on that first graph like they did all the others. Also, it's not clearly dated (since I didn't read the whole thing, I don't know if it can be interpreted from there or not; all I know is that it's later than 2001, since that's the most recent and prominent year on there). The worst part is that the way the survey was performed is not clearly described; surveys are incredibly easy to screw up with sampling bias, and whether it was done through web, mail, flyers, etc. makes a huge difference in the reliability and applicability of the answers. This paper wouldn't fly in my department... Grumble, moan, grumble)

Done whining now.

More relevant to your point, however, is that about 30% of the respondents said that they currently think they'd like to eat whale.

What we don't have from this survey is a good idea of how often respondents eat whale; the best we get is that only 12% of respondents reported eating whale in the last year (or 21%, if you want to say all the people that didn't answer that question had eaten it in the past year). This suggests that demand is very low, since it's unreasonable to assume that all of those who did eat it in the past year do so regularly, when at least a third of people that would eat whale hadn't done so in an entire year. Might suggest why you find it in the bargain bin so often (I personally found that anecdote useful).
[EDIT: Just to add some emphasis to this point about the frequency of consumption; I enjoyed eating snake and bison, I would eat them again if I was offered some, but I've only had either of them maybe twice, and my first time eating either of them was over a decade ago.]


So the most useful information I can pull from this is that, of the respondents, about a third have eaten whale (mostly 20 and up, though they do mention that there's almost a complete flip in the responses at around 25, so it's mostly people above 25). Somewhere between 12% and 21% have eaten it in the past year.

Less than a fifth of the population eating something in a year is not 'common' in my eyes. My prior information may have been underestimating the consumption, but I think you're overestimating it, based on this information.
And again, I think if you're finding it in the bargain bin that often, it has a greater supply than demand (at least in your area), which is a problem, just not the problem of Japanese loving to eat whale.
Edited: 2017-04-03, 2:57 am
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#18
(Just continuing the anecdote) The fish bargain bin is a daily thing, you'll see the most common stuff (katsuo, salmon, squid) there since they overstock to meet demand, and a lot of people only go shopping once the discounts kick in. It's a practical and very busy shop, something in the bargain bin usually means they have a reason to believe that many people buy it (they adjust supply to consumer demands quite rapidly since there's not that much shelf space).

And yeah, you totally caught me taking the fast way for a quick statistic instead of doing my homework properly, sorry! Given how it's not a regular item on most restaurant menus (the cheap ones) and usually not in bentoes, it's unlikely to be consumed as often as other fish; it's definitely aimed at people who prep their own food, so it'll be a bit underrepresented in the general population. I just wanted to point out that it's really accessible.
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#19
No problem, now I can finally claim that I actually read some kind of article (well, 'skimmed' a 'paper') this week! And like I said, I probably was underestimating the consumption earlier, so it was definitely useful information.

So with that kind of shopping pattern, I'm guessing a lot of people that cook their own food buy meats the day they're going to cook them? I guess that would make sense, since I doubt most Japanese homes have large freezers in them.
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#20
If it's sashimi you just buy it fresh and prep it at home asap.

I dare say most people buy readily prepped food like lunchboxes on their way home :p

Most homes do have freezers, but unless you go out of your way to a retail supermaket (closest one to my house is about 10km away) frozen food tends to be more like frozen pizza/frozen gyoza/frozen pasta etc: not bulk quantities of ingredients to be cooked later. Fresh meat is usually sold in quantities that you can prepare in one go.
Edited: 2017-04-04, 8:36 am
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#21
I wish they sold more food like that here. Aside from fresh produce and canned tuna, there's not much that comes in single serving sizes (it's always 'family sized', which usually feeds four to six people); and when it does, it ends up being cheaper to buy a bit more and shove the extra in the freezer (reason I was asking about that).
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#22
Thank you for your answers!

On a side note, I've read today that Canada has a similar issue, but with seals.
I wonder why people doesn't say the same things for Canada.

Lately every time I see something about Japan on the internet or TV, it's decorated with words like "strange", even when there is nothing strange about it.

I would like to see the same severity in judice with our internal issues (I'm talkin for Italy here), but you know, eating sushi above a naked body is "stranger" than to use children to wrap heroin doses, or to shot a child because his father who sells counterfeit products on the streets does competition with the local clan. But yes, whales.

I'm starting to think that our media over-exagerate other cowntry issues to hide our national issues. This is sick and people who falls for this is just stupid -_-
Edited: 2017-04-05, 10:25 am
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#23
Reporting on 'strange Japan' has been a trend for years now, especially on the Internet.

The things I don't like are the severe exaggerations of problems (here and elsewhere). For instance, the radioactive isotopes off the coast of California linked to the Fukushima disaster; "there's fifty billion percent more <insert radioactive isotope here> than before! Everything is going to die!" The thing is, those isotopes don't occur naturally, so in reality that billion percent increase still amounts to less radioation per cubic meter of water than is coming from the banana you just ate. And the reason we know it's safe is because someone already had the idea that we should check on the dispersion of radioactive contaminants from the site...

I don't mind people criticizing other countries (or whatever) but at least stick to reality instead of twisting the facts to manipulate people who don't have the time or care to research things themselves. Kind of a 'tell me what happened, not how to think about it' kind of thing.
Edited: 2017-04-05, 8:33 pm
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#24
People (natives) hunted whales when I was in Alaska and got to try some. The American news in particular needs to reflect on itself before criticizing other countries.
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#25
This quote has been making the rounds on whaling related posts on reddit this year. Thoughts?

Quote:A lot of people keep bringing up this “scientific whaling” issue, so let me clarify a bit of history around this.

First, there are no international laws against whaling. Second, there is no treaty against whaling. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is a voluntary organization and all their decisions are entirely voluntary. Any member country is free to quit the IWC and ignore all of its decisions. Or it may stay in the IWC and reject any specific decision by filing a formal objection to it. The IWC does not have the power to impose any penalties whatsoever on any country.

Second, a bit of history about the IWC. The IWC was not created as an anti-whaling organization. On the contrary, it was created by whaling nations to promote sustainable whaling forever. This was the position of the IWC when Japan joined in 1951.

Over time, public in the west became increasingly opposed to whaling and pressured their own governments to take a stand against whaling in the IWC. Many countries which had absolutely no history of whaling joined the IWC just so they could have a vote in its decisions, and IWC membership rapidly expanded from a handful of whaling nations to 88 countries today.

Since the IWC operates on a simple voting basis, as anti-whaling votes began to rack up, their decisions turned to imposing smaller and smaller whaling quotas over time. In 1982, when the membership stood at 37 countries, the IWC voted to completely ban commercial whaling, reducing the quota to zero. The vote passed.

Japan and several other countries objected on the grounds that the resolution was arbitrary and not based on the advice of the IWC’s scientific committee. The committee had previously said (and continues to say) that not all species of whales are threatened; some may safely be harvested in limited numbers without affecting their stocks.

Japan threatened to quit the IWC, but the US forced them to remain. At the time, Japan was fishing (for regular fish, not whales) in the waters of the Bering Sea, claimed as EEZ by the US. So the US told Japan that if they quit the IWC, then the US would take away their rights to fish in the Bering Sea. Japan bowed to the threat and stayed. But six years later, the US took away Japan’s right to fish in the EEZ anyway, so by 1988, the US could no longer threaten Japan, and Japan announced its decision to quit the IWC.

This caused panic among IWC members, because once Japan left they would have no more control over it. They hatched a plan to keep Japan in the IWC, but also to keep their anti-whaling moratorium intact. The plan was to create a “scientific whaling” exception to the moratorium. Then they asked Japan to stay, and told the Japanese they could continue whaling under the scientific whaling exception, so long as they did the paperwork. The Japanese agreed and have been faithfully doing it since.

But meanwhile, anti-whaling sentiment has increased further and now people are saying that scientific whaling is a fraud. Japan knows that very well, but their point is that they only agreed to it under pressure from western countries who wanted to keep Japan in the IWC. Many countries, such as Norway, Iceland, Peru, either quit the IWC or filed objections so they can continue to whale in peace. Japan feels unfairly treated because they were persuaded not to leave by the scientific whaling exception, and now people are complaining about the exception.

They point out that this is not the only exception to the moratorium. There are exceptions for tribal beliefs, which many countries including the US take advantage of. Tribal populations are allowed to take whales for eating, but Japan is not allowed.

The solution from the Japanese perspective is to quit the IWC so they can whale in peace like Norway. But Japan is internally divided, and there are those who don’t want it to leave. So they’re stuck with this stupid scientific whaling exception, which isn’t scientific at all, and which causes a lot of angst.
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