Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, February 17, 2010
THIS AP ARTICLE on the latest episode of the long-running South Pacific winter serial Sea Shepherd vs. The Japanese Whalers should be of interest to students of human behavior.
One of the eco-buccaneers illegally boarded a Japanese vessel to make a citizen’s arrest of the captain and present him with a bill for the destruction of one of the protest ships, the Ady Gil. Cap’n Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd wants the Japanese captain arrested for attempted murder.
Compassion for post-adolescents with arrested development is one thing, but Japan has decided enough is enough.
The Japanese government has decided to bring Bethune to Japan for questioning, Fisheries Agency official Osamu Ishikawa said. He will be charged with trespassing and assault and tried under Japanese law, Ishikawa said….Under Japanese law, intruding on a Japanese vessel without legitimate reasons can bring a prison term of up to three years and a fine up to 100,000 yen (US$1,100).
Bethune is a New Zealander, and his government is reluctantly coming to his assistance:
New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said it seemed Bethune’s intention was to be detained aboard the whaling ship, but his country nevertheless had an obligation to try to help him and was seeking cooperation from Japanese diplomats.
What obligation is that? Is not Mr. Bethune an adult? Did he not have a choice about his behavior? Then he should accept the consequences of his behavior. During the Koizumi Administration, the Japanese government refused to help a citizen who traveled to a dangerous part of the Middle East despite knowing the dangers in advance, and that citizen finally made it back in one piece–after having learned an important lesson.
Most interesting about the AP article is the manner in which it is written. There seems to have been a significant shift in perspective. No longer do they portray Sea Shepherd as the hipster heroes and the Japanese as the sneaky villains. They give Sea Shepherd short shrift, and provide plenty of space for the Japanese side of the issue. This paragraph in particular caught my eye. The emphasis is mine:
Japan has six whaling ships in Antarctic waters under its scientific whaling program, an allowed exception to the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 ban on commercial whaling. It hunts hundreds of mostly minke whales, which are not an endangered species. Whale meat not used for study is sold for consumption in Japan, which critics say is the real reason for the hunts.
In fact, the entire structure of the piece seems to slant the tone slightly toward the Japanese side. That’s an astonishing development, particularly for the AP.
Is it a coincidence that the shift occurred after the Japanese demonstrated they weren’t going to put up with the nonsense any longer? (And told the Australians as much?) I think not.
It’s human nature to treat with deference those who assert themselves to stand up for their perceived interests without being overbearing. It’s also human nature to treat wimps with disdain, even when they’re in the right.
Now, if the Japanese government were to start applying this attitude universally…