Biggest threat to Japan whaling: Declining appetites

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  • 14

    smithinjapan

    "The greatest threat to Japan’s whaling industry may not be the environmentalists harassing its ships or the countries demanding its abolishment, but Japanese consumers. They’ve lost their appetite."

    So are the people that insist you are against Japanese culture because you don't agree with whaling going to demand Japanese eat more and suggest they are J-bashers if they do not? Better yet, is the government going to continue to misuse Tohoku funds to insist whale meat be on the table for school kids?

  • -2

    MGigante

    While I am not against the hunting of whale, I do ultimately hope the large-scale hunts stop only because whales are like swimming sacks of toxic waste due to their long lives swimming in the ocean.

    Perhaps they could step up beef production in Hokkaido, or even Kobe to compensate? Though, there doesn't seem to be much need to do these hunts if the people are not buying the meat. Coastal whaling, or stepping down its quotas, as the article suggests, would seemingly be sufficient for Japan's needs.

    "What’s at stake is not just whales. It’s a matter of territorial rights, in a way.">

    Yup. The date in which the exploitation of the antarctic is finally open to the international community is quickly approaching, and Australia claims a pretty significant portion of the Southern Ocean/Antarctica, which is not recognized by other nations.

    Japanese whaling serves as a good means of establishing claim to an area (which explains the subsidies), and regardless of the UN ruling, I think Japan will try to continue to maintain a presence there.

    Hopefully they can continue to do something. Maybe build another couple of research stations? Maybe another ice-breaker?

  • 4

    some14some

    Biggest threat to Japan whaling: Declining appetites

    Sour Grapes (?) perhaps ICJ vedict is known to j-media (!)

  • 20

    senseiman

    It is refreshing to hear that demand for whale meat is tanking, at some point one would hope that reality would break through and force the abandonment of the whole program. Not just for the whales but because it is an obscene waste of taxpayer money which only employs about 200 people and doesn`t really have any benefits for Japan.

  • -10

    oldman_13

    Their country their right. Many here would not appreciate any Japanese lecturing them on what they should or shouldn't do in theirs.

  • 13

    marcelito

    old man -Their country their right. Many here would not appreciate any Japanese lecturing them on what they should or shouldn't do in theirs.

    Precisely the point about doing things in " their country ". That's why a lot of people on here say to Japan - if you wanna continue your whaling " tradition" , then do it in Japan's own waters and not in the Antarctic Ocean sanctuary.

  • 6

    GG2141

    Whale meat has always been a 'meat of desperation' largely because........it does not taste very good. A society should be proud and celebrate the fact that they have developed and become wealthy beyond having to eat horrid smelly whale meat.

  • 6

    lationz

    Their country their right

    Err, no. Our world. Everybody's right (to decide)

  • 10

    cleo

    The institute rejected repeated requests by the AP for comment on whaling and its future, citing concerns about possible repercussions and violence by the Sea Shepherd on the Japanese whalers.

    That doesn't make sense. The icr is afraid SS might do something violent to the whalers who are now on their way home, if a spokesman makes a comment about the future of whaling? Talking about whaling is somehow going to elicit more violent repercussions than firing exploding harpoons does?

    Monday’s ICJ ruling in the Hague could cost Japan the roughly 1,000 whales it takes in the Antarctic each year

    Thanks to SS, they haven't taken anywhere near 1,000 in many a year. A good ruling will 'cost' Japan a couple of hundred whales that are a major hassle to take, and save the country ¥5 billion a year of taxpayers' money. A handful of old men might succumb to apoplectic fits, but everyone else in Japan will benefit.

    The program is used for the vested interests

    This.

  • 3

    Moby Grape

    Have long felt that the whaling industry would naturally collapse if operating on level grounds. Now it is propped up by the government so that Japan does not have to suffer the indignity of having other countries tell them what they can and can not eat. The few people who do like whale meat are mostly old men who find it nostalgic.

  • 6

    Raymond Chuang

    Not only declining appetites because the younger generation of Japanese don't eat whale meat, but also the cost of catching the whales in the first place. Even without the harassment of the Sea Shepard group, having a fleet of ships travel by sea from Japan to Antarctic waters is an expensive thing to do even with government subsidies, and that expense may be why whale hunting may soon come to an end anyway.

  • -3

    kcjapan

    Please stop eating these beautiful creatures.

  • -2

    kwatt

    Let us enjoy the ruling of ICJ on Monday about Japan can do or not in the future. It seems Japan has no arguments about it and so Japan will follow it as they love any international rules.

  • 10

    zichi

    The whale hurting industry is bankrupt and only survives because every year billions and billions of public money is poured in. If it was commercial whaling it would die out because no company could afford it. Even the new development to declare the whale flesh to be halal won't save it from going down the drain. The money wasted could be used to improve the fishing industry especially the areas damaged and destroyed by the mega tsunami.

  • 1

    invisiblecolor

    It should be illegal to profit off the hunting of whales for "scientific purposes" Only NPO's should be doing this, and whale meat should be sold as prices that merely recoup losses.

    I think the only reason whaling survives is because some certain people are profiting off the tax money poured into it, despite the losses on paper.

  • 7

    tinawatanabe

    Please stop eating these beautiful creatures

    To differentiate creatures by beauty is subjective and species' discremination. All creatures are beautiful.

  • 19

    Reza Rahman

    The reason for the collapse of whale sales is the changing tastes of Japanese people. Increasingly Japanese diets are being "westernised". In the small city I live in now there are 5 Indian and 5 Spanish restaurants/bars. 9 years ago there was one of each. Whaling is a waste of resources. The money could be spent on fish farms and the like. Mussels can be farmed and they clean the water around them.

  • 4

    paulinusa

    I've said this before : Whaling has only become about local jobs and nationalism.

  • 5

    madmel

    If it's true the tax payers are subsidizing this farce it needs to stop. No industry should have long term subsidy. Your company rises or falls on market success. If there is no market you change your business or close shop. The use of this (and dolphin) possibly toxic meat in school lunches is criminal. It's taking advantage of ones own culture of not questioning the establishment. I will not let my child attend a school that serves that garbage.

  • 7

    Vincehwr

    high price, lack of recipe varieties and negative image

    These should be enough incentive to give up whaling but some people just live to antagonise, I suppose.

    Many here would not appreciate any Japanese lecturing them on what they should or shouldn't do in theirs.

    Really depends on who is the person lecturing. Not good to generalise.

  • 5

    zurcronium

    What a horrific waste of money, with such limited support they had to steal funds from the Tohoku allocation.

    Fact is that whale meat is a relic of the past and is now larded with mercury. Anyone eating it might as well just suck mercury out of a thermometer (the old fashion kind).

    Only right wing nuts support this effort, which means of course Abe will continue to fund this waste.

    Monday, when the ruling goes against Japan hopefully more Japanese people will stop eating whale.

    Recently whale meat was sold to pet food companies as a protein source since humans are not buying it.

  • -4

    SamuraiBlue

    Whale meat not used for study is sold as food in Japan. But according to Fisheries Agency statistics, the amount of whale meat stockpiled in freezers at major Japanese ports totaled about 4,600 tons at the end of 2012, from less than 2,500 tons in 2002.

    Another flipflop biased article. Japan's harvest quota from 1995 to 2004 was 440 whales so of course there will be less stock within the freezer compared to present day stock since the amount of catch was far less then it is now.

  • 3

    YuriOtani

    Whale niku is YUCKY! It has that no good taste and is like rubber. No wonder they can not sell the stuff.

  • 13

    Naoki Kumagai

    Since the steak meat of beef was expensive when we were children, the whale was given to us as the substitute. However, the necessity was lost now.

  • 6

    TokyoGas

    Compare to other meats, whale meat is expensive and not available everywhere. I've seen whale bacon just once and I've seen whale meat in just a few places. Obviously the demand is not there and the industry should be allowed to fade away.

  • -4

    Heda_Madness

    The money wasted could be used to improve the fishing industry especially the areas damaged and destroyed by the mega tsunami.

    Like Ishinomaki for instance?

  • 3

    zichi

    Not all prefectures eat whale meat.

  • -2

    Heda_Madness

    No, but Ishinomaki was a whaling port that was destroyed in the Tsunami. It's worth remembering that.

  • 7

    GW

    Whaling has traditionally only taken place in a few small towns doing some coastal whaling, if Japan stuck to that NOBODY would bother them much if at all!

    And while it made sense to eat whale after WWII & I seem to recall the US made the suggestion to do so............in the end the so called Cultural aspects of whaling in Japan are pretty minimal & of more recent times.

    Now given few eat it, most large whales carry a large amount of heavy metals in them.............it just plain makes sense to let the industry dwindle back to the few local coastal towns taking a few of the smaller species.

    The fiasco that sends these ships to the south pole have GOT TO STOP for the many obvious reasons, hopefully tomorrow's ruling with lead to an end to this utter non-sense!! But then J-govt does love their non-sense so ............

  • -2

    hatsoff

    I'm not against whale hunting if the species in question are not endangered (let's face it, they're more elusive than captive farm animals), and I've eaten whale meat on several occasions. However, as stated here and from my general impression talking to Japanese people directly it's not something the population eats a lot of so it's ridiculous that the whalers are catching over 1,000 whales each season.

    As long as the government pays subsidies the whalers will continue to catch whales (a bit like how in the USA corn is farmed at a loss and only makes a profit for farmers thanks to government subsidies). If whaling stopped tomorrow, I wouldn't be upset, and most of the population wouldn't miss it either.

  • 7

    Disillusioned

    So, they finally admit that commercial whaling is not viable! Even if they were to fill their quota every year there is no market for it. That is the idiocy of the Japanese whaling program. They are researching to prove that whales can be hunted commercially, but there is no market to sell the meat after they have caught it. As the article states, if SS had not been disrupting their hunts the stocks of frozen whale meat could be up to 20 times more. Just grow up Japan and stop throwing money into this pit! There are 200,000 people in Tohoku still living in cardboard boxes while you waste tens of millions of dollars on this dead horse!

  • -2

    hkitagawa

    Sorry, I haven't bought the whales for a while since I'm trying Italian cheese but the prices still too high. If they can turn the cheese price better, then I can think about replace part of my appetite :) Ohhh..... the tax prices from 5 to 8% will turn hard to get the whales meat. Perhaps they can reduce the prices catching more!!

  • 3

    Peter Payne

    So, you know, stop doing it.

  • -1

    tinawatanabe

    If it's true the tax payers are subsidizing this farce it needs to stop. No industry should have long term subsidy

    Japan is subsidizing many industries, which is Japan's discretion. I'm sure other countries are doing the same.

  • -1

    Nanraayashimunitarinai

    marcelitoMar. 30, 2014 - 08:36AM JST old man -Their country their right. Many here would not appreciate any Japanese lecturing them on what they should or shouldn't do in theirs.

    Aha.. There are just human rules if u don't know that.

    Reza RahmanMar. 30, 2014 - 10:19AM JST The reason for the collapse of whale sales is the changing tastes of Japanese people. Increasingly Japanese diets are being "westernised". Not really. Thay wanna be or want to show themselves as "westernised", but....

  • 5

    smithinjapan

    Heda_Madness: "No, but Ishinomaki was a whaling port that was destroyed in the Tsunami. It's worth remembering that."

    It is indeed, but it's worth remembering only -- not using it for nationalistic purposes like billions for whaling (elsewhere, I might add), or getting the Olympics. People who defend whaling constantly bring up Ishinomaki and the tsunami as a reason why, for some reason, whaling should continue, when it should not. How much government money would it cost to completely rebuild the port in question? How many people work there? How much is it for "science"? How much rots in the freezers?

    Cut whaling altogether and save Japan BILLIONS.

  • 1

    Heda_Madness

    Smith,

    I was responding to a previous post, the one I highlighted:

    The money wasted could be used to improve the fishing industry especially the areas damaged and destroyed by the mega tsunami.

    I was merely pointing out that one of the towns destroyed in the tsunami was a whaling port. I didn't mention the Olympics, nor use it as a reason that whaling should continue.

  • 5

    zichi

    @Heda_Madness:

    "No, but Ishinomaki was a whaling port that was destroyed in the Tsunami. It's worth remembering that."

    But in truth, the whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru and the whalers are all owned by Kyodo Sempaku who charters them to the ICR for their "research whaling". The crews are taken on for the voyage and signed off on their return to port.

    Kyodo Sempaku were given a ¥20 billion low interest loan to refit the Nisshin maru.

    the government injected about 500 million yen ($5 million) a year into the program, or about 10 percent of its costs. By 2007, the subsidy had grown to about 900 million yen ($9 million), and is projected to exceed 5 billion yen ($50 million) for the current fiscal year ending in September.

    The ministry later acknowledged funneling 2.3 billion yen ($23 million) of the fund into whaling, triggering public outcry.

    The industry at its peak in the 1960 had more than 10,000 crewmembers and fishermen, but that number has dropped to fewer than 200, plus a small number of coastal whalers.

    Since the introduction of the so called "research whaling" the ICR have published a few more than 120 scientific papers in peer review journals costing about ¥350 million each. Some of those papers were rejected by the science community.

    Yes, the public funds now going into the whaling could be used to improve the fishing in **all the areas* that were damaged by the tsunami. like oyster and mussel farming, tuna fish farms. All employing more than 200 involved in seasonal whaling?

  • -2

    Heda_Madness

    Sorry. I hadn't realised this story only covered the research whaling in the Southern Ocean? Certainly the claim that ' whalers still plan to catch another 1,300 whales per year.' would suggest it was talking about all of Japan's whaling.

    So the Nisshin Maru, or the Antartic hunt don't actually change the fact that Ishinomaki is a whaling port.

    But yes, funding should go to all areas. I don't believe I said any different did I? In fact I gave Ishinomaki as one example of an area that could use help. What with this article being about whaling and all that.

  • -1

    hatsoff

    Whaling is such a touchy issue, yet I've never read a cogent argument against it here on JT. Anyone want to try?

  • -1

    smithinjapan

    Heda_Madness: "I don't believe I said any different did I? In fact I gave Ishinomaki as one example of an area that could use help."

    Yes, but you see, that's the point!! EVERYONE uses Ishinomaki as an example when in favor of whaling, without even realizing they are supporting the fact, through this one example, of how it's not at all scientific research that's the priority but the 'tradition' of whaling for the meat. Worse still is that they always use the tragedy of the March 11th disaster to do so. Does Ishinomaki have a science research center? They have a manga museum, the San Juan Batista Museum, and I think even some museum about inkstones, but beyond that I'm not sure.

    "So the Nisshin Maru, or the Antartic hunt don't actually change the fact that Ishinomaki is a whaling port."

    It changes the fact when you use it as an example of commercial whaling in the Souther Ocean.

  • 4

    zichi

    Heda_Madness

    Sorry. I hadn't realised this story only covered the research whaling in the Southern Ocean?

    All of the Japanese whaling is "Research Whaling" carried out by ICR who charters ships from Kyodo Sempaku. The same crews used for the Southern Ocean are also the ones taken on for the North Pacific Whale hurting.

    More importantly the port of Ishinomaki needs to realise that whaling is a dying trade and now needs to think about the future and new fishing industries, like tuna farming?

  • 0

    Heda_Madness

    Smith, I have no idea what you're reading but it's certainly not my post.

    Zichi mentioned that money that is used on whaling should be used to help the areas destroyed in the tsunami. I mentioned Ishinomaki, as a whaling port, based in Tohoku. End of.

    The rest of your post is irrelevant to my post.

    And at no point have I linked Ishinomaki to anything in the Southern Ocean. In fact you will notice that I pointed out that given the article is talking about 1,300 whales - and Japan only aims to take 950 in the Southern Ocean that I have clearly differentiated between the two.

  • -5

    smithinjapan

    Heda_Madness: "In fact you will notice that I pointed out that given the article is talking about 1,300 whales - and Japan only aims to take 950 in the Southern Ocean that I have clearly differentiated between the two."

    Actually, you did not, until after the fact. Here is your initial post (after the "Like Ishinomaki for instance?"), which you have been criticized for:

    "Heda_Madness MAR. 30, 2014 - 12:31PM JST No, but Ishinomaki was a whaling port that was destroyed in the Tsunami. It's worth remembering that."

    So, yes, you DID mention Ishinomaki when talking about how money should be used, but in reference to a whaling port specifically, no? Why not mention other ports or industries in Miyagi or elsewhere? You were obviously using it as an example of how a dying industry should still be supported, when it should not. As for linking it to whaling in the Southern Ocean, that's been provided by Zichi and others, and is linked regardless of any distinction you think you are making. Trust me, if the ICJ decides to ban whaling -- errr... 'research' in the Southern Ocean, supporters of whaling will say precisely the same as you: "What about the people in Ishinomaki?" It's constantly being used as an example to prop up a dying industry.

  • 0

    Heda_Madness

    Yes but by the time you'd posted the other, I'd assumed you'd read my other post.

    Anyway, I still don't understand why you feel the need to criticise the fact that Ishinomaki is a whaling port. Ishinomaki in Tohoku. Ishinomaki was damaged in the tsunami.

    The money wasted could be used to improve the fishing industry especially the areas damaged and destroyed by the mega tsunami.

    Are we to believe that only non-whaling ports should be rebuilt. I don't think that's what Zichi was saying unlike you I just respond to what's been written and not what I imagine.

    Why not mention other ports or industries in Miyagi or elsewhere?

    Have I missed the point of this thread? I thought it was about whaling. I hadn't realised it was supposed to be about using money to rebuild Tohoku. See what I did? I responded to a post with a comment that was on topic, it really shouldn't be that difficult for you to understand. I'm assuming you're a native English speaker.

    And again, I haven't said anything about using Ishinomaki to prop up the whaling industry. I was merely responding to the comment by Zichi.

  • 4

    Osaka_Doug

    I'd like to see more people in Japan recognizing that protecting endangered species is important -- but they get hassled by the right wingers. The youth are slowly understanding because they hear about it from friends outside of Japan.

  • 3

    Yogizuna

    Japan should be grateful that "Sea Shepherd" has contributed to less wasted whale mean being stored in freezers that almost no one wants to eat anymore.

  • 1

    presto345

    Whale niku is YUCKY! It has that no good taste and is like rubber. No wonder they can not sell the stuff.

    I don't support whaling, nor a policy which is indifferent to international consensus, but although a statement as above may find support it is totally off the mark. Any food can impart the 'no good taste' if one does not have the skill in preparing it. Octopus, squid, oysters and other seafood, beef, chicken, kangaroo, gator, you name it can all be prepared to taste like rubber. Make your pick. And comment when you are sure you know what you're talking about.

  • 8

    Kabukilover

    Whale meat is full of dioxins, the Japanese won't eat it, the stock piles of whale meat are overflowing, it is a waste of taxpayers' money. Time to knock it off.

  • 1

    hatsoff

    I'd like to see more people in Japan recognizing that protecting endangered species is important

    That's important, but if you are referring to whales, the species Japan catches are not endangered. In an earlier post I said that I was interested to read a cogent argument against whale hunting. The only response was two thumbs down. That's not much of an argument, and I would have hoped those responsible had manned up and written something convincing instead.

  • 4

    gelendestrasse

    That's fine. Now cut the government subsidies and watch the whole thing end.

  • 2

    Rrdantonio

    Isn't it amazing that in Capitalist societies government subsidizes dying industries? A quick history lesson. The U.S. passed laws to "protect" the slave industry even after it passed laws outlawing the import of slaves. During Lincoln's time in office there were only three countries that still allowed slavery. The U.S. was one of them. Lincoln had been advised by trading partners, especially Russia, that if slavery was not halted that the U.S. would suffer trade embargoes. Eventually, in this decade, whaling will simply cost Japan too much.

  • 0

    kcjapan

    "comment when you are sure you know what you're talking about."

    Loved! this one. Comment about eating an endangered species when you know how to cook it. Delightful.

  • -2

    Atsushi Ishii

    it's easy problem. If Japan lose, Japan will quit IWC and start commercial whale fishing.

    I hope Europe and US and AUS people will have more sophisticated idea for different culture.

  • 0

    Fukuppy

    I don't know why they keep whaling year after year with so much of the stuff in freezer storage. They could have thrown Sea Shep a curve ball by not going on a trip for one year. Not that I'm in favour of whaling.

  • 0

    Patricia Yarrow

    Well, "hatsoff", this must be the first time you are reading this thread. The arguments against whaling have been made here endlessly, with the usual suspects refusing to accept reality. We are perhaps tired with stating the obvious over and over and over. Please check former threads for the debate history.

  • 2

    hatsoff

    kcjapanMar. 31, 2014 - 03:22AM JST

    "comment when you are sure you know what you're talking about."

    Loved! this one. Comment about eating an endangered species when you know how to cook it. Delightful.

    The ironic thing about your post above is that the species Japan hunts are not endangered.

    @Patricia - I've read lots of these and I've not read a cogent argument yet. A case in point is the loose use of 'endangered' not to mention the overflowing of emotion that usually accompanies this subject. I assume you feel passionately about not catching whales yet you can't be bothered to put anything forward here?

    Btw, what do you mean by accepting reality and where does that fit into an anti-whaling argument? Personally, I couldn't care less if whaling were banned tomorrow, I'm just looking for a non-emotional argument against hunting whales that are not endangered.

  • 4

    Victoria Maude

    The elementary and junior high schools that I have worked at have served whale in their school lunches about once a year. On those days, I often hear the students remark that they don't really like it, and that they'd prefer beef, chicken or pork. It might just be because it's a mass prepared school lunch (though most kyushokus are quite delicious compared to their overseas counterparts), but whale tastes like tough, fishy beef to me (though I'm sure it tastes better when prepared carefully). Not the most delicious meat I've ever had, so I agree with my students. I'd rather eat something else. It wouldn't surprise me if that generation rejects whale as a meat when they are the ones calling the shots.

  • 1

    It"S ME

    At my sons school when they served whale 90% of its was returned to the kitchen, since been taken of the menu. Besides the stories/lies of force-feeding no child has to eat what they don't like.

  • 2

    fxgai

    SamuraiBlue,

    Good point on the change in harvest quota.

    I also noticed the article says the whale was "about 4,600 tons at the end of 2012, from less than 2,500 tons in 2002". But, I think it was nigelboy the other day who showed current levels also at 2,400 tons. So from 4,600 tons to 2,400 in 14 months... there seems to be a fair degree of fluctuation in the levels of whale meat, for a product supposedly not being eaten to declining appetites.

    A Fisheries Agency official conceded that Sea Shepherd’s efforts to harass whaling ships have kept the stockpile from growing even bigger.

    But that's obvious, what is to concede? When supply of a product is abundant, inventory levels increase. Sea Shepherd have successfully disrupted the supply of whale meat. This article seems to be written somewhat in wishful thinking. I was just reading an article on another news site that said a whale restaurant started in 1977 in some port city is now one of the town's top 10 restaurants. Go figure.

  • -3

    Daniel Neagari

    What did you expect.. .there is no offer... of course the consumption is going to go down.

    And with so much information against whale meat... that is also going to affect. ... and if some japanese media or organization made some kind of whale meat promotion... lord help us the whales-are-my-lovers and the Sea Spearhead are going to come to Japan and they are going to ram the Media with their boats.

  • 0

    taj

    ... it’s limited to specialty restaurants and school lunches in most of the country.

    I'd like to see a source for that statement.

    In the two decades I've spent in the Tokyo area, I've seen more and more restaurants and izakayas add whale items to their menus. Just regular places. I think it has become less of a specialty item.

    That said, I rarely see any of my friends or colleagues order it.

  • 2

    donkusai

    The international court has just ruled 12-4 against Japan, declare that Japanese whaling is not scientific research. No appeals are allowed.

  • 4

    battambangbound

    The remaining 200 whalers can be bought off (subsidized for life) for a lot less than what the Japanese government is paying to subsidize a whaling program that (apparently) no Japanese person other than a whaler really wants.

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