Thursday, April 11, 2013

“J” is for Japan’s War Against Whales

Breaching Humpback WhaleAbout a year and a half ago one of my translation clients brought an interesting situation to my attention: Japanese whalers were preparing to head out toward the Antarctic on their yearly “research” expedition, with the intention of “capturing” (translated=killing) 935 whales of various species – including the largest of all living creatures: the blue whale – all under the auspices of scientific research. I wrote an article about it which received a great deal of attention. The true reason, carefully hidden, was in some measure to satisfy a 1000 year old tradition of eating whale meat. Although the claim was highly contested, my research brought forth some very interesting facts about easily buying whale meat online, complete with per pound prices.

Last year (2012), thanks in part to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Japan’s whaling season was cut short, with the Japanese fleet heading home with only 266 minke whales and one fin whale, instead of the 935 whales that they had hoped for. This year, due to continuous harassment or as some say sabotage, by Sea Shepherd, the Japanese fleet ended their whale hunt after only 48 days, 21 of which were spent avoiding activist attacks by Sea Shepherd ships; these attacks were judged to be acts of piracy by a US court. As a result of Sea Shepherd’s interference, the whalers were able to take home only 103 minke whales and no fin whales, which is far below the desired result. It is also the lowest result since the moratorium against whale hunts began in 1987.

Japan still has intentions of continuing the war against whales during the next season, completely ignoring the international moratorium upheld by most countries – Norway and Iceland also indulge in whaling –  in the world. In fact, not only are they ignoring the fact that most countries are against whaling, they hope to gain support and approval from other countries as they continue to take advantage of the clause in the moratorium that allows for research whaling.

It has just been announced that both Australia and New Zealand will be involved in a international legal battle against Japan in the UN court this coming June, in the hope of stopping the dubious research whaling. Indeed, Australia’s Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, announced that “Australia will now have its day in court to establish, once and for all, that Japan's whaling hunt is not for scientific purposes and is against international law. Australia wants this slaughter to end."