Sunday, February 11, 2007

Whales: views from Japan

The Tokyo-based English-speaking weekly Japan Times has published today an excellent six-parts series about the political and socio-economic realities of the Japanese whaling industry.

This comes out when the Japanese Government is hosting this week in Tokyo a conference seeking the "normalization" of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), 25 years after the worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling was adopted. In the lexicon of the Japanese Fisheries Agency, "normalization" means "elimination of the moratorium" and "resumption of commercial whaling" (plus a few other elements, "secret ballot" at IWC meetings for example).

If you are intrigued by the persistence of the Japanese Government in its defence of the whaling industry (still, 25 years after a moratorium on commercial whaling was adopted by the IWC in 1982), you should read this Japan Times series, written by David McNeill who is also the Tokyo correspondent of The Independent newspaper.

In the piece titled "Vitriol vies with Science", the author quotes me as saying that "I couldn't believe how decadent the IWC had become". That's right, that was my feeling last year when I attended the annual meeting of the IWC for the first time in 20 years.

If you're interested in the thinking behind my statement, read my piece "Harpooning a dinosaur", written on the Caribbean island of StKitts in June last year the night the whalers regained the simple majority at the IWC.

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