Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Whaling trade off in the works?

January 27, 2009

For most Japanese, whaling is just like catching fish or slaughtering cows for beef. There’s hardly any hesitation to eating whalemeat, cooked or served  as sashimi along with tuna, salmon and squid.

But environmental groups and anti-whaling countries like the United States, Australia and Britain fiercely object to whaling, calling it cruel and unnecessary.

Whaling clash

While Japan says some species are abundant enough for limited hunting, anti-whaling countries say all whales still need protection from commercial exploitation and from continuing environmental pollution.

Meetings of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) have failed to bridge the divide. Commercial whaling was banned under a 1986 treaty, but Japan continues what it calls “scientific whaling”, making trips to the Southern Ocean every year to hunt for minke and fin whales.

Environmentalists have pelted whalers with bottles of rancid butter in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped Japan from embarking on its latest hunt.

Whalemeat on saleIn what could be a breakthrough, however, U.S. and Australian media  report  that IWC Chairman William Hogarth is working on a proposal that would allow Japan to hunt whales near its shores in exchange for  cutting back its Antarctic whale hunt. 

Such a trade off has been floated in the past, but will Japan and anti-whalers comply?

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