Source: Gaijin Pot
In January and July of this year, several news outlets ran reports of Japan dropping out of the whale conservationist organization IWC (International Whaling Commission) and resuming its commercial whaling industry. This change in stance sparked a tirade of criticism from environmental conservation groups abroad. But rather than helping the cause, it may have made things worse as some have dismissed these claims as a form of cultural imperialism.
The issue of whaling in Japan has been fraught with controversy for years, even when Japan was a member of the IWC. Much of the friction arose due to Japan’s whaling for questionably “scientific” purposes—which is allowed under the IWC—in the Antarctic Ocean and Southern Hemisphere, and as a result, often getting called out by animal protection groups.
However, under Japan’s new commercial whaling policy, the country will concentrate on whaling minke and other whales off its own coast and leave their previous hunting grounds in international waters alone.
Feeble curiosity in Japan
Local reactions were largely unaffected at first, with the general sentiment being mild support and mostly curiosity about what whale even tastes like.
Despite what the whaling interests would have you believe, whale meat is actually quite rare in Japan. During the U.S. occupation following World War II, American authorities encouraged Japan to introduce whale meat into food markets and school lunches as a cheap source of protein. Still, the majority of the younger generation has never tried it.
While 233,000 tons of whale meat were consumed in Japan in 1962, that number plummeted to just 3,000 tons by 2016, according to government data reported by The New York Times.
In response to the new commercial whaling initiative, many Japanese Twitter users took to the platform to voice their curiosity, including user @rQI9ot583PtNqE0: