Whaling

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                                                  The other day when the big earthquake hit Japan I wrote about happiness, which was one of the topics of my second intensive course this spring. The course’s aim was improving expressing your opinion, and the topics were basically controversial issues: civil rights, women’s choices in Japan, Japanese sex life survey, whaling, Japanese happiness survey, middle age couples’ divorces, Japanese immigration policy, globalization, and Japanese constitution, and so on.

     I’d like to write about all of the topics, but I’ll need much time for each one. I don’t have that stamina. So I’ll write about only whaling among them because the topic was allotted to me for a presentation in the class.

     As you know, Japan used to one of whaling countries, but it’s stopped commercial whaling activities basically and formally since 1987. It’s because IWC (The International Whaling Commission) introduced the commercial whaling moratorium in 1982. About 70 countries join IWC now, and anti-whaling countries are USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. There’re some other countries which oppose to whaling for protecting whales from extinction, but they admit whaling under some condition.

     There’re 7 points at the issue mainly: Recourses, Conservation, Intelligence, Culture, Conflict between whaling and whale watching business, and Cruelty. About them, I’ll leave out. If you are interested in whaling issues, please check this page. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whaling

     My position of the presentation in the class is: For whaling, Japan should appeal to other countries for understanding with scientific and specific evidence.

     ① Japan’s evidence isn’t persuasive.
              Japan asserts that there are many whales in the world and there’s no concern of extinction  at species. But the evidence is by own investigation and the way itself is unreliable.

     ② Japanese scientific whaling program is suspect.
              Japan asserts that killing whales is essential for some researches, for example, analysis of stomach contents is for studying the dietary habits of whales, and analysis of whale ear plugs is for knowing the whales’ age. But Japanese whaling is too many for these researches. It kills about 1000 or more whales a year. And there’s a fact that we can buy whale meat anywhere and anytime in spite of the time of the commercial whaling moratorium.

     ③ Japanese claim for whaling with the cultural background sounds fretful.
              Some aborigines for example in Greenland, Alaska or Russia are admitted whaling with restriction. It’s for cultural preservation. But Japan is excluded from the list. Why? Because Japan keep catching too many whales in the name of researches.

     Japan should ask other countries including opponents to survey the population of whales by species. And with the report, Japan should show the reasonable number of whales to catch a year for study and preservation of culture. If it’s revealed that there are plenty of whales still now, Japan may be able to appeal to international society for renew commercial whaling with restriction because the preservation environmental is more important for us.

     Some people often say, “Japan always refers to the word of culture, but it’s nothing but a plausible excuse. Japanese people started eating whale meat because oft he food shortage after World War II. ”

     Yes, it is true that whale meat became a primary source of food and protein Japan in the postwar 1940s and 1950s. But the history between whales and people in Japan started long time ago. Whales’ bones were excavated form some ruins of the Jomon period, which started about 12000 years ago. But it seems that people used whales adrift at that time.

     There are many monuments and festivals as tokens of people’s gratitude for whales near most of the fishing ports in Japan. In some area, whales used to be held memorial services for their souls as the same as people. And some parts of whale are used for Japanese mechanical dolls. It is said that whales has no parts thrown away. Those show historical and cultural relation between whales and Japanese people. Japanese government should appeal that point to international society more with stopping a mass whaling under the name of researches.

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