A whale of a problem

The killing of both whales and dolphins has been a huge point of contention between Japan and the rest of the world for years. Best exemplified in the 2009 documentary "The Cove," the practice of systematic dolphin slaughter does not merely represent the murder of thousands of near-human-intelligence creatures, but also the addition of poisonous dolphin meat into Japanese schools, rife with mercury.

For years, whale hunting has been shielded under the guise of research by Japanese officials. However, just recently, they folded to the U.N.'s intervention and ceased their annual event in the Antarctic after 25 years. However, the “deeply disappointed” officials in Tokyo have not specified whether it has been ceased indefinitely or if it will carry over to other regions.

Somehow, Japan has avoided international whaling statutes for over 30 years. In 2010, Australia took it to court on the issue, but Japan prevailed using scientific research as an alibi to continue the slaughter of whales. Even with this thinly veiled guise, Japan has gone on record as saying that the whales it investigates “scientifically” will likely one day end up on the kitchen tables of Japanese families.



Nobody can quite understand while whaling is so essential to Japanese infrastructure. Whale consumption has decreased substantially over the years, leaving many to wonder where all the meat goes.

Add this to the fact that whales lack the ability to reproduce at the rate which the Japanese are slaughtering them, and the U.N. argument seems pretty compelling. Japan claims that it is also a tradition, one which is important to the culture of its people. Yet, many see this as another alibi, and one which has no relevance to the present economy anyhow.

Even with this small victory at the hands of the U.N., it is by no means over. Whale meat is an important source of food and the government’s position to use it based on scientific facts has not changed,” said Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

To me, Japanese whaling and dolphin killing is one of the great anomalies of our time. They continue to slaughter these creatures knowing they're driving them to extinction, and also knowing that their meat contains large amounts of mercury poisoning. To top it all off, Japan is one of the more progressive countries in the world in other aspects. They just somehow turn a blind eye to mass fishing.

I believe the U.N. needs to be even more forceful with Japan, because otherwise, our future generations may never witness the majesty of a blue whale. Even worse, they will upset the nature of our underwater ecosystem, causing an unforeseen domino effect resulting in unknown harm. It's time for Japan to join the 21st century and abandon whatever harmful traditions it's hiding behind.

Reach the columnist at iagilber@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @izzyg25

Editor’s note: The opinion presented in this column is the author’s and does not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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