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2014年9月18日 (木)

社説:IWC総会 守るべきは湾岸捕鯨だ

September 17, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Japan must give up Antarctic whaling, focus on preserving coastal hunt
社説:IWC総会 守るべきは湾岸捕鯨だ

The Japanese government will unveil plans to resume research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean at the International Whaling Commission meeting now in session in Slovenia.
It is an absolute certainty, however, that the move will be strongly opposed by a number of anti-whaling nations, while the International Court of Justice has already ordered Japan to cease research whaling. As such, Japan should switch strategies. It should abandon Antarctic whaling -- the necessity of which is doubtful in any case -- and emphasize instead coastal whaling around Japan, which has a foundation in traditional Japanese food culture.

The international court ordered Japan to halt its Antarctic whaling program in March this year, stating that the program did not meet international standards for what constitutes scientific research. The court also took issue with Japan's insistence that the take of 103 minke whales in the 2012-2013 season was scientifically useful, despite the country's assertion that a "sample size" of about 850 was necessary for its scientific objectives. The court said that this and other parts of Japan's case "cast doubt" on the "characterization of JARPA II (the research whaling project) as a programme for the purposes of scientific research."

Japan accepted the international court's decision and called off the whaling expedition for fiscal 2014.

The government apparently plans to consult experts in setting a vastly reduced annual whaling quota for missions in fiscal 2015 and beyond, and call on other nations for their understanding.

Anti-whaling leader New Zealand, however, has already submitted a motion to the IWC meeting calling for Japan's research whaling to be postponed. The motion has already received the apparent backing of a number of countries including Australia, and Japan's plan faces a hard road that's quickly getting even harder.

The Antarctic research whaling program was started to help establish a scientific basis for the resumption of commercial whaling, which has been suspended by the IWC since the 1985-1986 season. Whale meat consumption in Japan, however, has dropped significantly, with the amount of whale on the market now just around 2 percent of what it was at its peak in 1962. Japan furthermore imports whale meat from Iceland -- which has continued commercial whaling -- and there is now an oversupply. There is very little reason to restart commercial whaling in the Antarctic Ocean, which means there is no need to keep doing research whaling to that end.

Mind you, neither can Japan completely go over to the other side, joining nations completely opposed to whaling and eating whale meat. Coastal hunts for small whales continue in places such as Abashiri, Hokkaido, Ayukawa, Miyagi Prefecture, Wada, Chiba Prefecture, and Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, where they are an important part of traditional culture and where whale meat is still a part of the local diet. Japan may have no great reason to seek the resumption of the Antarctic whale hunt, but it does need to protect these local culinary traditions.

Japan's coastal whalers now take Baird's beaked whales, among other varieties, after the IWC banned the hunt for the previously most popular variety, the minke whale. The Japanese government has called on the IWC to set a limited minke catch for the northwestern Pacific, but has so far been denied. Japan has proposed the same measure again at the current IWC meeting, but support looks hard to obtain.

Japan's insistence on moving ahead with Antarctic whaling has invited the intense opposition of other IWC nations, which is then also extended to Japanese requests for a coastal whaling compromise. Japan must break the connection between Antarctic whaling and coastal hunts. To gain support from other countries, Japan must use the ecological data already collected to build a persuasive case. The government must make greater efforts to preserve the coastal whaling traditions of Japan.

毎日新聞 2014年09月17日 02時30分


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