Japan from the inside out

On with the show!

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, November 22, 2008

THOSE WITH A TASTE for outré entertainment will be delighted to learn that this year’s revival of the reality version of South Pacific is shortly due to begin now that the Nisshin Maru has left port for its annual whaling expedition.

But those who enjoy fine entertainment might find the upcoming episodes to be less satisfying than programs in the past, despite a surprise addition to the cast.

Here’s the big downer:

Australia will not send a fisheries patrol ship this year to shadow Japanese whalers and protests near Antarctica, the government said on Friday, appealing for activists to keep high seas protests peaceful.

As Japan’s whaling fleet heads to the Southern Ocean to hunt close to 1,000 minke and fin whales, Canberra said it was pursing a diplomatic solution to Tokyo’s yearly research hunt after Japanese complaints last season about the Australian patrol ship.

Australia's Mr. Environment

Australia's Mr. Environment

Former hard rock singer and current Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett said in a radio interview that Australia won’t be using the Oceanic Viking, a patrol icebreaker, to shadow the whalers. Instead, the government will focus on a legal challenge to whaling. They’ll also conduct their own research to prove that studies of the population can be done without culling the herd.

Perhaps unintentionally demonstrating the Not In My Back Yard philosophy in action, Mr. Garrett also said that most of the hunting would be done in the New Zealand “patrol area” anyway. (New Zealand may “patrol” the area, but those are still international waters).

The Austrialian government aren’t the only ones who’ll be scaling back the production:

Greenpeace will not go to Antarctica this year to concentrate on an anti-whaling campaign in Japan and a court case against some of its activists over the alleged theft of whale meat.

Isn’t it fascinating how the possibility of a jail term can so quickly change an organization’s priorities?

But why did the Australian government change its mind? Might the June meeting between prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Fukuda Yasuo have had something to do with it?

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Fukuda have failed to resolve an emotionally charged row over whaling, but agree that the rift should not hurt the countries’ alliance.

“Prime Minister Fukuda and I agreed that you can have disagreement between friends,” Mr Rudd told a joint news conference. “We’ve also agreed that this disagreement would not undermine in any ways the strong and positive nature of our bilateral relationship. And we will be working in the period ahead diplomatically in search of a solution on this question.”

How jolly diplomatic it all sounds!

Perhaps the diplomatic solution was Mr. Fukuda reminding Mr. Rudd–if he needed reminding–that Japan is Australia’s biggest export market, and many of the products it purchases, such as beef and grain, can just as easily be purchased elsewhere. Japan is also one of the country’s largest foreign investors. That’s not an unimportant consideration, because Australia encourages foreign investment as a way to ameliorate its current account deficit. Another consideration is that they would prefer the investment to come from Japan rather than from China.

Though it won’t be the same old show without Austrialian and Greenpeace ships in the Sea Hunt, one of the other players has added a cast member for this season’s tour. The Eastern Hemisphere’s version of the insane clown posse, Cap’n Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd, announced that actress Daryl Hannah would be joining his crew. Ms. Hannah is a noted maritime affairs expert whose father was the owner of a tugboat and barge company. She also played a mermaid in the film Splash and starred in the TV film Shark Swarm. The latter film seems to have been an effort to maintain the viability of Grade C science fiction in the entertainment industry:

A fisherman and his family fight to take down a greedy real estate developer who has released toxins into the ocean, turning the area’s sharks into bloodthirsty hunters.

Then again, maybe they were presenting a parody. It’s hard to tell with Hollywood these days.

It’s also reassuring that the lovable skipper hasn’t changed a bit since he last showed up on our radar:

Watson himself was shot during one of the forays (last year). “I was wearing a bullet-proof vest, ” he told an Australian newspaper, “but the bullet hit my badge (an anti-poaching badge) so I had this bullet and I jokingly gave it to the guy who played Grissom in CSI (actor William Petersen) – he’s one of our supporters – and said ‘Hey, take a look at this because no one else will.’

Could it be that the reason no one else wanted to look at his bullet is that no one believed his story? Had someone from the Japanese whaling fleet actually fired a lethal weapon at him (and when was the last time you heard of someone employed by the Japanese government using a firearm overseas?) the shameless publicity hound would have hauled the Japanese crew members in front of some court faster than you can say Captain Queeg.

Not that they have to worry about lacking firepower in the unlikely event it comes down to a gun battle. Sea Shepherd reportedly carries AK-47s on board their ships.

Here’s the old salt describing his objectives to a sympathetic reporter:

“We intend to sink the Japanese fleet economically,” said Watson.

Now that’s a great idea for a musical: A seagoing version of Man of La Mancha!

Here’s how the reporter describes Sea Shepherd’s approach:

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas.

The “innovative direct-action tactics” that Sea Shepherd takes “when necessary” has involved the sinking of 10 ships around the world by ramming, and a failed attempt at ramming the Nisshin Maru two years ago (which did more damage to their ship than to the Japanese vessel). It’s also worthy of note that Paul Watson’s confrontation of “illegal activities on the high seas” landed him jail time in two different countries on two different continents.

The Steve Irwin, the lead vessel in Sea Shepherd’s two-boat fleet, flies the Skull and Crossbones during its voyages. When will someone take them at their word and start to deal with them as real pirates instead of playacting pretenders?

That would be unlikely to bother the wealthy Hollywood stars who back the group. Their agents undoubtedly purchased some insurance before the actors forked over the cash for the mini-fleet to serve as their proxies in the environmental war while they serve on the home front on back lot and sound stage.

The Steve Irwin is due to weigh anchor and set sail on 1 December after Watson lines up some more financing, so expect the curtain to rise on the latest installment in this farce sometime in January.

8 Responses to “On with the show!”

  1. bender said

    Maybe with the big financial crunch and all, and the falling export price of their natural resources, the Aussies have more important issues to care.

  2. Rober said

    The Steve Irwin, the lead vessel in Sea Shepherd’s two-boat fleet, flies the Skull and Crossbones during its voyages. When will someone take them at their word and start to deal with them as real pirates instead of playacting pretenders?

    Are you suggesting we start paying Sea Shepherd large ransoms?

  3. bender said

    Are you suggesting we start paying Sea Shepherd large ransoms?

    To fund ex-immigrant Watson’s anti-immigration campaign? Boo!

  4. TomB said

    Whatever your politics, whaling today has no scientific or conservational value.
    I also see you’ve posted this in “Traditions”, suggesting, like a festival I’ve visited before, that whaling is part of the “Japanese culture”. Well, times change… There’s no real demand for the meat, so WHAT’S THE POINT?

    There are people who are against whaling, not Japan. I don’t think much of Sea Shepherd either, but this just sounds like a big whinge to me…

  5. bender said

    I’m fine with eco-loons, but the white supremacist tinge in (some of) them is what bothers me. Oh, BTW, I’m against whale culling.

  6. protoplasm2 said

    Hi, ampontan. About the alleged bullet fired at Captain Paul Watson: removal from the vest was captured on hi-def film; both Animal Planet and Sea Shepherd would never risk being entirely sunk if revealed as a stunt; Watson said “We asked the Australian police to take a look at it and they refused”. I’m sure the Australian government would like to see Paul discredited…so why didn’t they take the case? Why has no one else offered to reveal Paul as a fraud?

    Secondly, please cite your source for “Sea Shepherd reportedly carries AK-47s on board their ships”…and please describe why you feel these weapons have never been used…especially as Sea Shepherd ships have been raided by law enforcement quite frequently.

    Thanks, be well

  7. ampontan said

    So, they’ve got them removing A bullet from A vest? Do they have a hi-def film showing a bullet getting from a Japanese gun fired by a Japanese person on a Japanese ship at the pirate ship when they were at close quarters?

    Why has no one else offered to reveal Paul as a fraud?

    Perhaps because no one wants to give him a free platform…including the Australian government, which is opposed to whaling, and including Greenpeace, which is opposed to whaling.

    As for the AK-47 story, you can find the sources yourself easily with Google. Also, I have no particular “feeling” about why they have never used the weapons, so a description is impossible.

    For that matter, could you “describe why you feel” people shouldn’t get irritated when someone who boasts of sinking 10 vessels by ramming tries to ram theirs?

  8. Ken said

    Last time, tender-hearted Japanese released those pirares soon after capture.
    But not this time.
    Japan seems to send those who commit piracy once again to jail.

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