A summary of editorials from leading Japanese newspapers (September 26, 2014)
post date : 2014.09.26
A summary of editorials from leading Japanese newspapers, posted biweekly.
At its general assembly on Sept. 18, the International Whaling Commission adopted a resolution aimed at getting Japan to postpone its resumption of research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean.
Japan, however, said it would not abide by the nonbinding resolution and would resume research whaling in 2015 as scheduled, after a hiatus of one year making its program acceptable to as many countries as possible. The nation suspended research whaling in the Antarctic this year after the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to halt it in March.
The five dailies wrote about this issue in their editorials: The Asahi Shimbun (Sept. 21), The Mainichi Shimbun (Sept. 17), The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Sept. 24), The Sankei Shimbun (Sept. 21) and The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sept. 21).
While The Sankei was the sole newspaper calling for the resumption of research whaling in the Antarctic, The Asahi, The Nikkei and The Mainichi cast doubt on or opposed its resumption in the face of an intensified international outcry. The Yomiuri, which has been a staunch supporter of research whaling, slightly shifted its stance and said it may not be important to conduct large-scale research operations.
The newspapers, except The Sankei, called on Japan to focus on traditional whaling along its coast.
The Sankei gives full support
The Sankei said Japan must thoroughly explain why whaling for scientific research is significant and necessary to the international community. “Japan’s argument that its operations are indeed scientific will be in vain if Japan postpones the restart of research whaling, which it suspended to respect an order handed down in March by the International Court of Justice to halt research whaling.”
“The IWC is not categorically rejecting whaling, nor is Japan isolated in the IWC,” the paper said. “It is the responsibility of Japan to speak for whaling-friendly nations—as a representative of whaling nations.”
Withdrawal from Antarctic research whaling
The Mainichi urged Japan to withdraw from research whaling in the Antarctic in its editorial published before the IWC adopted the resolution. “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,” it said.
Japan started research whaling with the aim of resuming commercial whaling, which it withdrew from in the 1980s. The Mainichi pointed out the amount of whale meat distributed on the market now is only around 2 percent of what it was at its peak in 1962. “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,” the daily said.
The Asahi and The Nikkei both said it is not advisable to restart whaling for research as Japan is bound to face a chorus of condemnation from anti-whaling countries for violating the resolution.
“The question the government should ask itself is whether it really makes sense to forge ahead with its plan to restart this controversial whaling program, which could cause Japan to be internationally isolated and requires annual spending of as much as billions of yen of taxpayer money,” The Asahi said.
The paper also suggested that Japan explore ways to transform the program into “international joint research,” which will be joined by anti-whaling countries. “To do so, Japan should stop hunting whales, while maintaining its position that scientific research itself is necessary.”
The Nikkei pointed out that the international community is increasingly turning against whaling. “If Japan goes ahead with research whaling in defiance of the resolution, international backlash will intensify…, making it ever more difficult to win wider acceptance for whaling.”
The daily said there is much less demand for whale meat now that nearly 6 million tons of reasonably-priced meats, including pork and beef, are available in Japan.
The Yomiuri, meanwhile, said the government must make “convincing arguments by presenting scientific data that would support the significance of research whaling” if it insists on resuming the program.
The newspaper, however, added: “Now, it may be less significant to continue large-scale research whaling as a precursor to resuming commercial whaling.”
*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi, and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively. Those for The Sankei and The Nikkei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center/Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.