By Anthony L Hall
For decades, despite international political condemnation and belligerent environmental protests, Japan insisted that it engaged in whaling for cultural as well as scientific purposes. In fact, it was so committed to continuing its whaling practices that Japan began inducing more venal members of the United Nations to recognize its right to hunt whales -- much as China was inducing them to recognize its right to claim Taiwan.
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com
Truth be told, I was always sympathetic to Japan’s position; not least because I see no difference between Japanese hunting whales and Americans slaughtering cows. Not to mention that there are many more people on this planet (most notably one billion Hindus) who consider the latter far more cruel and unethical than the former.
Frankly, if more meat-eating Westerners were forced to watch how animals are slaughtered (and in many cases processed) for their enjoyment, they wouldn’t be so self-righteous about hunting whales.
In any event, I drew the line when St Kitts and Nevis, a country in our neck of the global woods, began taking its venal support for Japan a sea too far. Specifically, it began floating the prospect of perverting the sublime experience of whale watching in the Caribbean (which is really big off Dominica) by sanctioning whale hunting too:
It took all the intestinal fortitude I could muster to contain the gastric reflux the very notion of this prospect triggered. After all, hunting whales in our pristine Caribbean Sea conjures up all of the putrid ghastliness of hunting baby seals on virgin ice in Canada’s Gulf of St Lawrence.
Whaling in the Caribbean could not be more inconsistent with the macroeconomic factors that drive our tourism sector. In fact, given the well-documented aversion to hunting, let alone eating, whales among the Americans, Canadians, and Europeans on whom we rely for our daily bread, we might have to eat those whales ourselves if St Kitts and Nevis inaugurates commercial whaling in our midst…
Is it just me or is there something even culturally anathema about wannabe Ahabs in whaling boats crisscrossing cruise ships and luxury yachts to harpoon their Moby Dicks…?
(“Whaling for Tourism? Rubbish!” Caribbean News Now, Friday, November 17, 2006)
Thankfully, this notion ended up floating like a ton of bricks.
Now comes this ruling by the international court of last resort to finally save the whales:
The future of whaling in Japan was thrown into doubt after the International Court of Justice ruled Monday that the nation’s annual hunt in the Antarctic was not really for scientific purposes -- as Tokyo had claimed -- and ordered it halted…
The judgment was praised by Australia, which brought the case against Japan in 2010, and by environmentalists, who have been seeking an end to whaling since the 1970s on ethical grounds…
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government will keep its word and obey the court ‘as a state that places a great importance on the international legal order.’
(The Associated Press, March 31, 2014)
Of course, the real news here is not the court’s ruling, but Japan’s immediate decision to obey.
Mind you, this does not end whaling. After all, unlike Japan, Norway and Iceland have never shown any regard for the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 moratorium, which imposed “zero catch limits on commercial whaling.”
The IWC permits whaling for scientific purposes only, but nobody who knows anything about whaling has ever thought that Japan’s whaling had anything to do with science. Interestingly enough, the court allowed that whales caught for scientific purposes could still be slaughtered and sold as a fringe benefit, which means that whale will soon become an expensive delicacy like Kobe steak and White Alba Truffle.
But, if it’s morally and ethically wrong to kill whales, isn’t this rather like conducting scientific experiments on poor blacks and then using them for cheap labor as a fringe benefit…?
More to the point, though, this ruling smacks of a triumph not of universal ethics or the environment but of Western cultural hegemony. Nothing else explains why it’s okay to slaughter cows, but not okay to hunt whales; especially given the IWC’s own finding that “some whale species are robust enough to support a whaling industry.”
Meanwhile, American fishermen probably dump (aka bycatch) more whales and other endangered or protected species each year than the number of whales Japanese whalers catch for food:
In the United States, despite strong management measures and conservation initiatives in some regions, bycatch remains a persistent problem for far too many fisheries. Some fisheries discard more fish at sea than what they bring to port, in addition to injuring and killing thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, sea turtles and sharks each year.
(Oceana.org, March 20, 2014)
Not to mention the hypocrisy inherent in Westerners condemning the Japanese for capturing and killing whales for food, while they’re capturing and caging them for entertainment. Continuing my admittedly dark analogy, isn’t this rather like American revolutionaries yelling, “Give me liberty or give me death!”, while keeping blacks shackled as slaves?
Incidentally, in addition to seeing videos of cows being slaughtered, you should see CNN’s anti-SeaWorld documentary Blackfish to appreciate why killing whales is arguably less cruel and inhumane than caging them.
But don’t get me started on the fact that the people patting themselves on the back for securing this ruling against Japanese whaling are the very ones blithely committing far more egregious planetary sins with their King Kong-like carbon footprints and Neanderthal-like consumption (of methane-emitting emitting cows). Got that?!
Anyway, would that half the international effort that has been marshaled over the years to save whales from slaughter in the Southern Ocean had been marshaled to save people from slaughter on the African Continent.