Japan from the inside out

Human nature

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…

3 Responses to “Human nature”

  1. soma36 said

    There are some politics and diplomatic dealings going on behind the scenes here that probably have nothing to do with the Japanese telling the respective countries that they “will not put up with nonsense”. South Pacific countries would react in the same way that the Japanese reacted to previous external government “demands” – by digging in their heels.

    I think with the new NZ govt which does not feel beholden to the radical green fringe, they are better expressing what most NZers think – we don’t agree with whaling and that will not change but, these Sea Shepherd punks are making us look kind of lame – we would rather use diplomacy to sort it out (which is happening right now). I can’t speak for Australia, though.

  2. St John said

    They should throw the jerk overboard and let his beloved whales decide what to do with him.

  3. mac said

    Bethune is current facing prison … the Greenpeace Two – who reported to the authorities the widely know corruption of whalers illegally selling whale meat are still facing court … and the Shuken Kaifuku wo Mezasu Kai (The Society to Seek Restoration of Sovereignty) are harassing local independent cinemas all over Japan not to show The Cove … a backlash against is now brewing, from the Freedom of Speech angle … including many well know directors in Japan and censorship from ukuyo dental leaders who they refused to met with.

    As usual, I think the Shuken Kaifuku wo Mezasu Kai are being slightly misrepresented by the hapless media … ever keen to portray Japan as some ridiculously rabid and reactionary right-wing nation … more than they are by the anti-whale and dolphin hunters like Ric O’Barry et al, who themselves do seem to blowing the whole issue up a bit.

    Having said that though … there are suspicions being raise about some deaths of politicians in Wakayama near Taiji and questions are being ask about WHO exactly is paying for the Shuken Kaifuku wo Mezasu Kai rentamob?

    Not stuff the Japanese media will ever raise one suspects.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: