In 2018 Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) before re-commencing commercial whaling in July.
Now, in a series of hearings that took place throughout December, the government has revised its national whaling laws, re-packaging them as the Act on the Sustainable Use of Whales.
Far from increasing sustainability, the actual goal of the reforms is to increase Japan’s commercial whaling activities and grow domestic demand for whale meat. One of the ways it intends to do this is by making it mandatory for elementary and junior high schools to serve whale meat for lunch.
According to Mr Ren Yabuki, Director of Japanese NGO Life Investigation Agency, “Japan’s decision to recommence commercial whaling without belonging to an international organisation is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“Now the government plans to inject vast amounts of taxpayer money into corporate whaling in an effort to grow the industry. They even hope to serve whale meat as part of children’s lunches at school.”
“Consumption of whale meat has decreased in Japan to the point where the average consumption per capita is only 30 grams a year. However, the Japanese government is still spending as much as 5.1 billion yen of taxpayer money on corporate whaling every year.
“And that’s only the beginning. There are further plans to spend more than 10 billion yen of taxpayers’ money on dismantling old whaling ships and building new ones.”
These environmentally destructive new laws also seek to include additional species under commercial whaling permits, including Baird’s beaked whales, while Article 2 of the bill aims to prevent and suppress anti-whaling and dolphin-hunting protest.
Life Investigation Agency is currently pressing two criminal charges related to Japanese whaling, and the police are investigating those cases. But cetacean hunting is notoriously difficult to monitor and regulate.
“Since the ocean is virtually an unmonitored, closed room, a lawless attitude can easily be adopted,” Ren from LIA points out.
“By leaving the International Whaling Commission, Japan has departed from the international community on this issue.
“The world needs to know there are organisations within Japan, such as my own, that oppose whaling. We do not want to see the industry expand.”