From: Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Date: Sat Dec 21 2002 - 00:34:44 EST

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    We are three 9th grade students from New York and are in the process of
    completing a research project on whaling. For part of the project we must
    interview an expert on the topic we are studying. We found your website and
    we were wondering if you would be able to answer questions for our project.
    Please respond with your answer to SaraBerri2@aol.com as soon as possible.
    Thank you for considering our request.
    Dear Sara, Lauren, and Alex,
    I have copied an article below about whaling that I hope answers your
    questions but I also urge you to search WhaleNet
    http://whale.wheelock.edu/howtofind.html to find more information about
     Good luck and happy holidays!

    The Whaling Controversy between Japan and the U.S.
    Kaori Nakai Anthropology 202Professor Ferro

    March 10, 1997

    The Whaling Controversy between Japan and the US
    There is a dispute between whaling countries and anti-whaling countries.
    Whaling countries argue that it is possible to take whales while preventing
    them from becoming extinct. Anti-whaling countries assert that thereıs no
    possibility of taking whales without extinction, and that all whales are
    endangered. This dispute has continued for more than two decades (Misaki,
    1994). What has made this issue so persistent? What is behind this issue? To
    examine this subject, I will compare two nations. One is Japan and the other
    is the U.S. Japan is one of the whaling countries, and the U.S. is one of
    the anti-whaling countries. To make this paper clear, I will argue this
    issue from the following points of view:
    1. Outline of the controversy on the whaling issue.
    2. Japan and the U.S.ıs stand points on whaling.
    3. IWCıs inconsistency
    4. Japan and the U.Sıs historical aspects on whaling, and how whales were
    used and valued.
    5. How Japan and the U.S. educate their own people about whales.
    Let us take a look at the outline of this issue first.
    1. Outline of the Controversy on the Whaling Issue

    First of all, let me introduce some general information about the nations
    and organizations who play roles on this dispute. They are divided into tow
    groups, whaling nations and anti-whaling nations. Animal rights activists
    and environmentalists are on the side of anti-whaling nations. Whaling
    nations include Japan, Norway, Iceland, Russia and the U.S. The U.S. has
    indigenous Inuit people who are practicing whaling (Misaki, 1996).
    Anti-whaling nations include the U.S., the U.K., France, Australia,
    Switzerland, Monaco, New Zealand and others (JWA, 1997).
    Although whaling nationsıpolicies vary, the fundamental component is the
    same, which is that it is all right to take minke whale stock because of new
    scientific evidence. Anti-whaling nationsıpolicy is uniform, which is that
    no commercial whaling can be allowed no matter what happens (Skare, 1994).
    As of 1996, there are only six whaling nations left out of thirty-nine
    member nations in the IWC. All decisions are made by the majority of
    three-fourth votes in the IWC (JWA, 1988).
    The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established in 1946. This was
    the operating institute for the International Convention for the Regulation
    of Whaling (JWA, 1981). Its goals are ³to provide for the conservation of
    whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling
    industry² (McKee, p.9, 1996).
    In 1972, the UN Conference on the Human Environment passed a resolution of
    ³a ten-year moratorium on commercial whaling.² This resolution placed
    pressure on the IWC to adopt this idea, however, the IWC turned it down
    because of no evidence found to support the moratorium by its own Scientific
    Committee (Donovan, 1993).
    In 1982, the IWC adopted the moratorium on commercial whaling without the
    recommendation of the Scientific Committee which asserted that the
    moratorium was unnecessary (Nagasaki, 1995). A number of non-whaling
    countries joined the IWC before the vote for this moratorium. A big campaign
    was conducted by environmentalists and animal activists to let non-whaling
    countries join the IWC (Skare, 1994). This resolution should have been
    reevaluated based upon the best scientific evidence by 1990 (McKee, 1996).
    However, the ban was renewed without the base of the best scientific
    evidence in 1990 (Skare, 1994).
    After the IWC passed the moratorium, Japan, Norway Iceland and other
    countries filed objections to the IWC under the Article V of the
    International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (Misaki, 1994). The
    U.S. placed pressure on Japan using the Packwood-Magnuson Amendment to make
    Japan accept the moratorium. This domestic Law prohibits fisheries within
    the U.S. 200-mile coastal zone in case any country diminishes the
    effectiveness of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
    Japan withdrew the objection from the IWC and terminated the whaling
    operations under the agreement between the U.S. and Japan. Japan was
    concerned about its own $650 million fishing industry and its $40 billion
    trade surplus toward the U.S. at that time (JWA, 1988). In spite of the
    U.S.ıs promise to refrain from imposing sanctions on Japan, the U.S.
    executed the Packwood-Magnuson Amendment on Japan in 1988 (Washimi, 1991).
    Since Japan cannot resume commercial whaling, it has been practicing
    research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean since 1988 (Brownell, Ralls, &
    Perrin, 1989). Animal activists and environmentalists regard this practice
    as ³commercial whaling² because whale meat as a by-product of research
    whaling is sold to expensive Japanese restaurants (Greenpeace, 1997).
    Japanıs justifications on this issue are following:
    1. Japan has a permit to conduct research whaling authorized by the
    International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) (Tsurumi,
    2. All data on this research is submitted to the IWC every year (ICR,
    1994), and acknowledged by the IWCıs Scientific Committee (Tsurumi, 1996).
    3. Under the Article VIII of the ICRW, the whale meat of the by-products
    from research whaling is evenly distributed to the market throughout Japan.
    This distribution is inspected by the Japanese government (ICR, 1994).
    4. Due to the commercial whaling ban, the short supply of whale meat
    creates its high price in Japan (Misaki, 1996).
    5. Eating whale meat has traditionally been a Japanese custom since
    B. C. (ICR, 1996).
    In 1991 and 1992, a revised management procedure on catch quotas was
    recommended by the Scientific Committee. However, the majorities of the
    parties of the IWC turned down this recommendation both times. This proposal
    observed that a limited harvest of non-endangered minke whales wouldnıt
    deplete the stock (Boyton, 1994). In response to this IWCıs decision, the
    Chairman of the Scientific Committee, Phillip Hammond, resigned from his
    position in protest (Skare, 1994).
    2. Japan and the U.S.ıs Stand Points on Whaling

    Japanıs standpoint on whaling is unstable. Japan has concentrated on the
    Japan-US Security Treaty agreed in 1951. Under this treaty, Japan as a
    country of renunciation of war is supposed to be protected by the U.S. in
    case of war (Shueisha, 1976). This treaty has always been a threat for Japan
    whenever any disagreement has occurred between Japan and the U.S. I suspect
    this is one of the reasons why Japan easily withdrew its objection to the
    moratorium on commercial whaling from the IWC. There was fear toward the
    U.S. in Japan. Japan takes following stand:
    1. Minke whale stock is abundant (760,000 whales in the Southern
    Hemisphere), therefore Japan can take minke whales without depleting their
    2. Japan wants to conserve traditional whaling communities that are
    collapsing because of the ban on commercial whaling (ICR, 1995).

    The U.S.ıs stand is paradoxical. Its policy is anti-whaling. It asserts that
    any commercial whaling cannot be allowed even if the whale stock condition
    and humane killing practices are improved (High North Alliance, 1994). On
    the other hand, the U.S. allows the Alaskan Inuit to take truly endangered
    bowhead whales. The Scientific Committee of the IWC ruled that bowhead
    whales cannot stand hunting at all (Misaki, 1996). Even President Clinton
    acknowledges that the bowhead whale species is endangered in a warning
    message to the Canadian government. He states:
    The (bowhead) whale in the eastern Arctic was taken from a highly endangered
    stock. The IWC has expressed particular concern about whaling on this stock,
    which is now known to be recovering (Clinton, 1997).
    3. The IWCıs Inconsistency

    The IWC has a paradox, too. As it was mentioned earlier, its twin goals
    are²to provide for the conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible
    the orderly development of whaling industry²(McKee, p.9, 1996). According to
    this charter, the IWCıs aim is not to stop whaling. Its aim is to develop
    the whaling industry while conserving the whale stock. However, the IWC is
    only banning whaling. Clearly, the IWC is violating its own policy.
    The Scientific Committee acknowledged that there are 900,000 minke whales in
    the world ocean (Westneat, 1996). Even the secretary of the IWC, Dr. Ray
    Gambell, asserted that commercial whaling can be practiced without allowing
    minke whales to be extinct (Blichfeldt, 1994). Nevertheless, the IWC itself
    has rejected commercial whaling for minke whales (Misaki, 1996).
    Japan has four traditional small coastal whaling communities. The Japanese
    government has been requesting a quota of 50 minke whales as an interim
    relief allocation to the IWC. The IWC has been rejecting this proposal since
    1988. The point is that the IWC recognizes the value of those small
    communities, yet it doesnıt allow them to take a small amount of whales. The
    following is the acknowledgment by the IWC:
    Japanıs small-type coastal whaling, though having some commercial element,
    culturally constitutes the core of whaling communities, and as such is close
    to what the IWC recognizes as subsistence whaling. Therefore, it should be
    allowed to meet the local demand to the extent that the minke whale
    population is not endangered (Misaki, p.7, 1996).
    While knowing the whale meat would be shared and distributed in a
    non-commercial context, the IWC doesnıt allow those four coastal communities
    to take whales (High North Alliance, 1994).
    4. Historical Aspects on Whaling

    The American people in general seem to have a strong sense of affection for
    marine mammals. Not only ordinary people but also highly educated people
    have such affection. The followings are several examples.
    After the so-called whale trial between Japan and the U.S., the presiding
    judge quoted, ³While this trial was being carried out, the precious life of
    whales has been taken away.² (Misaki, p.23, 1994). My friendıs sister who
    has a BA Major in Biology quoted, ³Whales are higher developed animal with a
    great deal of intelligence.² (Fleming, 1997). Naomi Rose, a marine mammal
    biologist with the Humane Society of the United States, stated the following
    about killing whales, ³Iım sorry, but things that are this cruel have no
    place in the modern world.² (Westneat, p. A14, 1996).
    On the other hand, the majority of the Japanese donıt think that way. To
    examine this difference, let us take a look at the historical aspects on
    whaling between Japan and the U.S., and also how Japan and the U.S. educate
    their own people later.
    (1) Japan on Whaling

    According to the evidence of hand harpoons and porpoise skulls found in
    Jomon burial mounds, it is said that Japanese has practiced whaling since
    10,000 BC (ICR, 1996). Bones of whales were discovered in the shell mound of
    the same period. This indicates that whales were consumed for food by the
    Japanese people since then (JWA, 1981).
    The Japanese always have taken whales for food. Due to the Buddhist beliefs,
    people didnıt eat meat of the ³four-legged animals² until the middle of the
    19th century. However, since whales were regarded as fish by the Japanese,
    they took whales and ate whale meat. Whales have no legs and swim in the
    ocean (Misaki, 1996).
    Whales for the Japanese were special fish which provided valuable protein
    and every part of the body was utilized (JWA, 1987). The Followings are the
    examples of utilization of whale parts:
    The (whale) oil was mixed with vinegar to make a highly effective pesticide
    for use in rice paddies*E*E*E The baleen was used from the tips of fine
    fishing rods, to beautifully polished dishes and combos, to the springs that
    worked the mouths of ³bunraku² pappets*c Bones are sawed up, cooked and
    pulverized to make excellent fertilizer*c Entails were used in miso soup or
    were broiled on charcoal. Absolutely nothing was wasted (Nicol, 1983?).
    Since Japanese whaling bean, the whales were not only used as food but also
    had a long time association with Japanese tradition. The description of
    whales appears in the ŒKojiki,ı which is Japanıs oldest written record (712
    AD). The ŒManyoshu,ı a collection of ancient poems, has a description of
    whaling and whalers (770 AD). In the ŒHeike Monogatari,ı chronicle of the
    Heike samurai family and its fight for supremacy, there is a description of
    2,000 porpoises that terminated the Heike military forces in the sea of
    Dannoura (JWA, 1981).
    According to Buddhism, every object has a soul. Due to thi s belief, whalers
    in old days recited Buddhist prayers to eliminate whales*fcurses as they
    killed whales. At the same time, whalers had blessings for the whales. We
    can see their blessings by whale memorials in many coastal regions in Japan.
    Thereıs even a whale grave in Tokyo (JWA, 1981).
    (2) The US on Whaling

    In the first place, the Westerners have been practicing sheep herding for
    11,000 years rather than whaling (Ferro, 1996).
    Americans had been chasing whales for oil and baleen all over the world.
    Before petroleum was found, Western people valued whale oil for high-quality
    lubricant, machine oil, lamp oil or candles (Misaki, 1996). Its baleen was
    used for skirt hoops. Westerners valued whale oil for machinery the most
    (Misaki, 1994).
    The American whalers began whaling in the early 18th century by the
    discovery of the superior quality of sperm oil (The Columbia Encyclopedia,
    1993). They expanded their whaling grounds from the Atlantic to the Indian
    Ocean, from the south Pacific all the way north to the Arctic Ocean. Because
    of the decreased demand for whale oil, the American whale industry was in
    the decline by the 1850s (JWA, 1981).
    In the 20th century, Western nations, as well as America, sent their ships
    to Antarctic waters, the last area that had rich whale stocks. The
    Westerners needed whale oil to develop modern machinery industries (Misaki,
    1996). They depleted many of the large species in the Antarctic Ocean before
    W.W.II (Misaki, 1996; JWA, 1981).
    The Americanıs aim for whaling was primarily oil. They never have eaten
    whale meat. As Euller (1970) describes, ³In the old days of (Western)
    whaling, most of the whale was wasted.² (p.93-94).
    Due to the development of petroleum products in the 1960ıs, Americans donıt
    need whale oil anymore (Misaki, 1996).
    5. How Japan and the U.S. Educate Their Own People about Whaling
    (1) Japan
    I am Japanese. I was born in Japan and raised in Japan. As I recall my own
    childhood, I remember many of the memories related to whaling and whales. My
    mother used to say, ³Whale meat is good. It is cheap and nutritious. Most of
    all, thereıs nothing to waste.² In her words, there was a blessing for whale
    meat and her feeling of a pride as a Japanese who utilize every parts of a
    In a social study class of elementary school, we learned whaling procedure
    and how whales were brought to the land. There was some description and
    pictures on whaling in a textbook.
    In a Japanese class, we read a story about a whaler. I donıt remember the
    story in detail, but I remember his bravery and my impression from the story
    that whale meat was beneficial.
    I was never told whales were smart or intelligent. However, I had an
    impression that dolphins were cute and smart because of an American TV show,
    (2) The US on Whaling
    Information on whales and whaling in the U.S. is very imbalanced. The major
    libraries in Washington State, including University of Washingtonıs library,
    donıt carry information on the history of Japanese whaling even though Japan
    has the longest whaling history of the world (Iwai and ³Class of the Moon,²
    Children are educated with inadequate information on whales through media,
    propaganda of animal activists and possibly their parents. Kim (1993) states
    following inadequate information for children in a picture book. ³Whalers
    from Japan, Iceland, and Norway continue to kill minke, sei, and fin whales.
    They claim it is to study whales, but often they sell the whale meat.² This
    text teaches children a negative image of taking and eating whales by
    exaggerating commercial whaling and not telling all the facts.
    People in the U.S. have easy access to see whales movies, such as ³Free
    Willy,² or to get education on marine mammals at various institutions, such
    as ³The Whale Museum² in Washington State, and ³The Intersea Foundation.²
    Magazines and newspapers often have advertisements for whale watching
    programs. I saw one ad of whale watching in the Seattle Times and a one-page
    article about dolphin research in the Christian Science Monitor on the same
    day. On the Internet, one can find more than 200 whale-watching sites in one
    search engine. It is very easy to get information on whales or marine
    mammals in the U.S. In this way, American people are educated that ³Whales
    are the most specialized of all mammals. They are sentient, they are
    intelligent, they have their own community, and they can suffer.² (Skare,
    As we see previous statements, there is a big difference between Japan and
    the U.S. in education about whaling.
    First of all, there is a difference of diet between the Japanese and the
    Americans behind this issue. This difference comes from their histories. The
    Japanese have been practicing whaling for 12,000 years. It is impossible for
    them to get rid of a notion why they cannot eat whale meat. On the other
    hand, the Westerners have been practicing sheep herding for 11,000 years
    rather than whaling. It is impossible for Americans to accept the idea that
    eating whale meat is no worse than eating land mammals.
    If both of these nations keep their autonomy, there shouldnıt be any
    problems between them. However, the whaling dispute continues even today.
    There must be some other things in addition to the difference of diet behind
    this issue.
    When the Japanese captured five orca whales in February 1997, the American
    media and animal activists immediately reacted. Orca whales are not
    endangered (The Seattle Times, 1997). What is the problem for them? Their
    ideology is that intelligent mammals must be conserved (COMO TV, 1997).
    Let us examine this ideology thoroughly.
    If we take the Americanıs ideology, ³Intelligent mammals must be conserved,²
    this indicates, ³The American donıt care about non-intelligent mammals.² If
    they were concerned about non-intelligent mammals, it would be impossible
    for them to get one hamburger for 99 cents. Even if non-intelligent mammals,
    such as cattle, are destroying the rain forests in Latin America, the range
    land in the U.S., and the atmosphere of the whole world (Frank, 1992), it is
    all right for the American people to get cheap beef because cattle are
    non-intelligent mammals. On the other hand, Americans think the Japanese
    cannot eat whale meat because whales are intelligent mammals. Even if Japan
    has culturally valued traditional whaling, they donıt want to value it
    because ³Intelligent mammals must be conserved.²
    Behind this argument, there is clearly an ethnocentrism in the U.S. The U.S.
    forces its own values on Japan.
    Lastly, let me add one analysis on this dispute.
    What we are puzzling is why the U.S. has two inconsistent policies, which
    are that it allows the Alaskan Inuit to take endangered bowhead whales while
    it doesnıt allow whaling countries to take abundant minke whales. I regard
    this inconsistency as an indirect ³Japan Bashing.²
    Japan is portrayed as a cruel and greedy country to the U.S. citizens.
    Stories about the whaling of the Alaskan Inuit show pure and innocent images
    of them. They are aborigines. They hunt a modest amount of whales to
    conserve their culture. On the other hand, Japan7s image is dark. Its
    whaling is seen as commercial whaling. Activists insinuate that Japan sells
    whale meat at $25 for 1,000 grams (JWHALE, ?). Even President Clinton
    implied Japanese whaling as an inappropriate activity. His letter to the
    Japanese government states that Japan stopped commercial whaling though they
    still continue whaling activities in the name of the ³research
    whaling²(Clinton, 1996).
    I analyze this subject that the U.S. is using the Inuit as a tool to make
    its own people view Japanese whaling worse. Otherwise the U.S. shouldnıt
    have let the Inuit take endangered bowhead whales. This indirect²Japan
    Bashing² by the American public encourages the U.S. politiciansı move to
    suppress Japanese whaling through threats of economic sanctions.
    I suspect the American politicians and animal activists are gaining from
    this whaling dispute. The American politicians can win elections by the
    peopleıs will. Animal activists can gain peopleıs will and money power to
    move politicians by showing inappropriate information on Japanese whaling.
    [Animal activists have money. It is said that they spend $10 million a year
    on their advertisement (Misaki, 1994). Some of the scientists on the
    Scientific Committee of the IWC had been financed by Greenpeace and the
    International Fund for Animal Welfare (The International Harpoon, 1996).]
    The victims on this issue are innocent American citizens and the Japanese


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