Japan's Whaling Controversy
Since the late eighties, Japan has banned commercial whaling, but since then critics say they've found an alternative way to feed consumer demands. Matt Walsh has more on this year's controversial catch.
Feeding Japanese tastes and feeding debate. Over the past week, some 2000 tons of fresh whale meat has been distributed throughout Japan. Anxiously anticipated by those who want to slice and eat it, the shipment is also being greeted by sharp criticism from opponents of whale hunting. This whale meat is the product of Japan's whale research program. The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, but allows Japan a limited catch each year for scientific purposes.
Critics outside the country say the research program is simply a front for continuing to satisfy Japan's taste for whale meat. That market is declining though, perhaps because limited supplies are driving up prices. This week, sashimi quality red whale meat is selling for the equivalent of about 22 dollars a kilogram. Whale blubber is cheaper, at about nine dollars a kilo.
AN UNIDENTIFIED MAN
If the price of whale meat goes down, I should think people would eat more of it, because the Japanese have been eating whale meat since long ago.
Japan does indeed have a long history of eating whale, but the younger generation's consumption of the delicacy is going down. The government is distributing a portion of this year's catch to school cafeterias, to try to ensure that Japan's growing up maintain the culture's taste for it.
AN UNIDENTIFIED MAN
There was the culture of whaling in Japan. If the whaling disappears it would make me feel sad, because that means that the particular form of the culture fades out.
Even in the face of declining consumption, Japan is discussing plans to buy imported whale meat from Norway, the only country still engaged in commercial whaling. But conservationists say an increase in international trade would further threaten whale populations.