Straight talk on whaling
Posted by ampontan on Friday, November 30, 2007
IF YOU THINK everyone in the West is bashing Japan for whaling, think again: Brendon O’Neill in the Comment is Free section of the Guardian newspaper in Great Britain does not beat around the bush in his attacks on what he calls Ecoimperialism. And that’s not all he calls it:
Under the cover of concern for marine life, Australia and New Zealand are throwing their white weight around in the Pacific, to demonstrate their cultural superiority over the “yellow” nations. They may not be able to touch Japan in economic terms, but they can use the issue of whaling to show the world that they’re morally better than the Japs. It took a contributor to an online discussion forum to spell out openly what everyone else has only said in code. The person posting said “They don’t kill whales for scientific purposes, that is utter bullshit, they kill them because they are fucking evil bloodthirsty amoral wankers”.
His statement of policy?
Demands that the Japanese stop whaling call into question Japan’s status as an independent, sovereign nation. It should be for Japan’s democratically elected leaders alone to decide what to do with the resources in their own seas, as well as in seas to which they have legal access.
He also notes that some African countries are quite sympathetic with the Japanese position:
It is telling that Japan is being supported by developing countries that know a thing or two about western meddling dressed up as animal rights activism. The Los Angeles Times says some developing countries now look to Japan as a “rebel” voice against “interference by Western activists eager to protect [various] creatures”.
“What could be more barbaric than whaling?”, activists and officials ask. I can think of one thing: the depiction of foreign peoples as uncivilised, and the curtailment of their sovereign rights by white nations and green campaigners who think they know better than the Japs and blacks.
The column has more jolt than a mug of espresso. Another fascinating aspect is its appearance in the Guardian, whose political stance is similar to that of the Asahi.
The article to which Mr. O’Neill links in the Los Angeles Times presents yet another side to the story. The author of that article, Bruce Wallace, claims the Japanese government has a problem with double standards:
Yet despite contending that tradition justifies the whale hunt, the Japanese government balks at accepting similar arguments from the Ainu people on the northern island of Hokkaido who want to fish for wild salmon. The Japanese government has long prevented the indigenous Ainu people from exercising their traditional hunting and fishing rights, including the right to catch salmon as they return to Hokkaido’s rivers to spawn.
Salmon have always been a food staple for the Ainu, such a fundamental element of their culture that they annually perform ceremonies to give thanks for the fish. Only in recent years has the government bent to Ainu lobbying and agreed to permit a small salmon haul that allows a few fish to be caught for ceremonial purposes.
This year’s allowance is 1,700 salmon, up from the 20 approved in previous years.
He seems to be stretching the point somewhat: The Japanese allow salmon catching within limits, and they maintain limits on their own whale hunting.
Mr. Wallace also contradicts his own reporting:
Japan has not yet found a way to extend that principle (support for the traditional way of life in small communities) to its own Ainu community.
Sorry, didn’t he just say that the Ainu are allowed to catch salmon?
Since the number of people in Japan whose ancestry is half Ainu or greater is estimated to range from only 150,000 to 300,000, it’s not as if the amount of salmon caught is insufficient for Ainu ceremonies. And since few, if any, of them live off the land in the way their ancestors did, the Ainu aren’t being deprived of their food supply. There are plenty of salmon in the supermarket, which is where the Ainu find their food these days.
Hasn’t the Japanese government listened to the Ainu appeals and increased the amount of salmon they are permitted to catch? That cannot be said of other governments in their dealings with the Japanese. Nor do the Ainu have to deal with the dangerous mouth-foamers of Sea Shepherd.