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Gov't Funded Whaling Has Become 'Unprofitable' in Japan
Executive director of Greenpeace Japan says domestic whaling industry has 'collapsed'
Sarah Cento (SarahC)     Print Article 
Published 2009-01-06 12:34 (KST)   
According to reports by environmental activist organization Greenpeace, Japan possesses a surplus of 4,200 tonnes of whale meat which has been frozen in storage. This comes amid claims by Jun Hoshikawa, executive director of Greenpeace Japan, that the Japanese whaling industry has "collapsed and become unprofitable" and furthermore that the "stigma of scandal and corruption" has transcended into the psyche of the general public making the practice unpopular.

Recent polling found that 71 percent of Japanese citizens do not support their country's whaling industry, a concept perhaps verified through the closure of the top whale meat restaurant "Yushin" in Tokyo.

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Despite this clear rejection of both the product and practices, the whaling industry still retains government funded support. Greenpeace found that most Japanese people are unaware that the government uses taxpayer money to maintain whaling practices. Furthermore, corruption within the industry has been revealed with whale meat being illegally shipped to private residences, thus being an abuse of the taxpayers' contributions.

Steps toward conserving whales have been achieved with a degree of success. Active opposition by Greenpeace has resulted in whaling organizations failing to reach their quotas for alleged scientific research, by up to half. However, with the industry suffering, public disapproval, alleged corruption and the clear detrimental impact on the species, the lengths to which the Japanese government is willing to go for this business is questionable.

The whalers have called upon Australia to refuse port entrance to anti whaling Sea Shepherd ship, the Steve Irwin. They have justified these requests stating that the Sea Shepherd have committed criminal acts in the Antarctic. The Sea Shepherd have responded to these claims stating that the incident in the Antarctic involved a situation where their ship, the Steve Irwin had right of way and the only damage incurred was to the paint of both ships.

It is unlikely that the Australian government will incur to a request by an organization whose practices it has actively opposed and subsequently block a ship named after an Australian icon. Doing so would be considered a direct retreat from the standards the Australian government have sought to promote.

In 2008, Australia launched a whale study where no culling of whales is involved. However, there is still a long way to go before unnecessary whale killing is eradicated all together. As satirized by comedian Chris Taylor in his program "Happy News Year," the Japanese are under the mentality that they need to, "kill more whales, before they can draw any conclusive evidence as to why so many whales are dying."

©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Sarah Cento

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