The System really is irredeemably broken: BBC: Tsunami relief funds diverted to GOJ whaling program


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Hi Blog. A bit of a tangent, but an important one, as it’s a watershed moment. I saw some news three days ago that made me say out loud, “That’s torn it. The System is irredeemable.” According to the BBC and the SMH below, we have relief efforts that should be going towards helping its own citizens recover from a tsunami and botched corrupt nuclear disaster going towards a GOJ pet project, a corrupt one that essentially exists to thumb its nose at the world: whaling. Yes, whaling.

People might have excused the GOJ for botched relief efforts up to now because a) the scale of the disaster is unprecedented or facing too many unknowns, b) the infrastructure was too damaged for efficient cleanup and rescue, c) things just take time and money to fix. But there is NO excuse for diverting money away from relief efforts for this kind of vanity project. It’s porkbarrel at the expense of a slowly-poisoned public.

And do you think the domestic media would have exposed this if activists and the foreign media hadn’t? The System is broken, and the Japanese public, cowed by a forever-fortified culture of submission to authority that punishes people for ever trying to do something about it, will not fix it. As I have argued before, Japan has never had a bottom-up revolution. And I don’t see it happening at this time no matter how corrupt and poisoned things get.

As coroner, I must aver: The GOJ has bankrupted Japan morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably. Arudou Debito

UPDATE:  NB to Commenters:  Please avoid getting the discussion bogged down in the petty politics of whaling (this has been discussed on much better forums).  This is not a blog post about whaling per se, rather about GOJ corruption and money earmarked for disaster relief purposes being sunk into what is in this blogger’s opinion an unrelated industry.  If you wish to debate cogently whether or not this activity counts as corruption, go ahead.  But tangents and snipes about alleged ocean terrorism, Sea Shepherd tactics etc. will not be approved.


BBC News 7 December 2011
Japanese tsunami fund ‘used for whaling programme’  Courtesy of JK

Japan has used funds from its tsunami recovery budget to subsidise its controversial annual whaling programme, environmental activists say.

Greenpeace says 2.3bn yen ($30m; £19m) is being used to fund extra security measures for the whaling fleet.

Japanese officials argued when they applied for extra funding that whaling helped coastal communities.

The whaling fleet reportedly headed for Antarctic waters this week, though Tokyo has not confirmed the reports.

There has been a ban on commercial whaling for 25 years, but Japan catches about 1,000 whales each year in what it says is a scientific research programme.

Critics say those claims are just a cover for a commercial operation, and accuse the Japanese of hunting the animals to the brink of extinction only for food.

Activists from the Sea Shepherd group have attacked the fleet as part of their campaign against whaling.

Last year Japanese abandoned its programme before it was completed, citing “harassment” from the group.

Earlier this year, the Japanese Fisheries Agency applied to the government for extra funding for its programme from the emergency budget aimed at helping communities recover from the devastating tsunami and earthquake.

The agency argued that some of the towns and villages affected relied on whaling for their livelihoods.

Activists say the agency’s funding request was approved and it has spent the money on extra security and covering its debts.

Junichi Sato, from Greenpeace Japan, told Australia’s ABC that there was no link between the whaling programme and the tsunami recovery.

“It is simply used to cover the debts of the whaling programme, because the whaling programme itself has been suffering from big financial problems,” he said.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have both criticised Japan’s decision to continue whaling.

They are both considering sending vessels to monitor the whaling fleet.

Sea Shepherd activists have promised to carry on their campaign against the whaling fleet.


Japan uses $28.5m in disaster funds for whaling: claim
Sydney Morning Herald
Andrew Darby in Hobart December 07, 2011  Courtesy AJ

A growing number of Japanese environmental and consumer groups are joining in protest against the use of disaster recovery funds to subsidise the loss-making whaling fleet.

The government recently gave the whalers 2.28 billion yen ($28.5 million) as part of a special budget for recovery from the March 11 triple disaster. Mr Kaz Inadome from the Japanese Consulate said no money from the disaster relief funds collected in Australia had been used. All that money had gone to the Red Cross in Japan.

Much of the extra funding will go towards security forces for the whaling fleet, which left Japan yesterday for the Antarctic, where conflict is expected with Sea Shepherd activists.

A total of 18 Japanese non-government organisations, including the Environmental Lawyers Federation and Consumers Union have signed on to a protest letter to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

“We demand the government not waste any more taxpayers’ money on the whaling program, but instead spend this money on projects that actually help the people, communities and region affected by the tragic March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis,” the letter said.

“It is clear that the Japanese government’s stated goal of resuming commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean is unachievable. The whaling program cannot survive without taxpayer handouts.”

Greenpeace Japan distributed the letter, because, according to executive director, Junichi Sato: “This is a new low for the shameful whaling industry and the callous politicians that support it.”

However, the Fisheries Agency of Japan said the funding was necessary because some traditional whaling communities were devastated on March 11.

Senior Agriculture and Fisheries vice-minister Nobutaka Tsutsui told a review committee recently the government was determined to continue its research program until it led to the resumption of commercial whaling.

Mr Kaz Inadome from the Japanese Consulate said no money from the disaster relief fund had been used.



Kieran Mulvaney
Analysis by Kieran Mulvaney 
DISCOVERY NEWS Thu Dec 8, 2011 01:50 PM ET  Courtesy of CG

Japan’s Antarctic whaling fleet has left port on its annual hunt, seeking to kill 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales for what it claims are ‘scientific research’ purposes. (The meat from the hunt is sold commercially.)

The hunt, already controversial, has attracted greater ire from critics with an admission by the Japanese government that it is using funds earmarked for earthquake and tsunami reconstruction to subsidize the fleet’s operations.

Greenpeace accused the government of diverting 2.28 billion yen (US$30m) from the earthquake recovery fund to help pay for this year’s hunt.

“It is absolutely disgraceful for the Japanese government to pump yet more taxpayer money on an unneeded, unwanted and economically unviable whaling programme, when funds are desperately needed for recovery efforts,” said Junichi Sato, the executive director of Greenpeace Japan, to The Guardian newspaper.

Japan’s Fisheries Agency stated that the money would be used for “stabilising whale research.” In the words of one official: “We will bolster measures against acts of sabotage by anti-whaling groups so as to stably carry out the Antarctic whaling research.”

That was a reference to the fact that last year’s hunt was called off a month early, with the fleet having caught only 172 whales, which the Fisheries Agency blamed on the attentions of Sea Shepherd. Japan’s Coast Guard stated that it would be sending an unspecified number of vessels to escort the whaling fleet. Some domestic news reports indicated that there would be two escorts.

Fisheries Agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku justified the use of funds by claiming that a successful whaling program would help ensure the recovery of some coastal towns devastated by this year’s tsunami. 

“The government will support the reconstruction effort of a whaling town and nearby areas,” he told AFP. “This program can help it reconstruct food-processing plants there… Many people in the area eat whale meat, too. They are waiting for Japan’s commercial whaling to resume.”

However, Greenpeace sources told Discovery News that as far as they could tell, 2 billion yen was being appropriated as a straight subsidy for the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR), the body that runs Japan’s ‘research’ whaling program. This is on top of an existing 700 million yen subsidy. (Update: This Wall Street journal blog quotes a Fisheries Agency official as confirming that 1.8 billion yen is for “supporting whaling research.”)

They also expressed confidence that the fleet would not come close to reaching its publicly-stated quota, pointing out that, two years ago, the number of ‘catchers’ – or harpoon-equipped hunting vessels – in the fleet dropped from three to two, and last year it dropped further, from two to one. This year, as last year, just one catcher will be used. Within official circles in Tokyo, the sources said, the target quota is much lower, largely due to a recognition that there is not enough demand for the meat.

That view was supported by Patrick Ramage, Whale Program Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

“As always, it’s important to pay attention, not to what is said but what actually happens,” he told Discovery News. “On the one hand, the Japanese government is finding the funds to continue with this money-losing enterprise. On the other hand, all the signals – for example, at the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission – are that this may well be the last hurrah for Japanese whaling in the Antarctic. The current Prime Minister is a long-time advocate for and supporter of the whaling industry. But the number of those supporters in the Diet, and particularly the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, is dwindling.”


34 comments on “The System really is irredeemably broken: BBC: Tsunami relief funds diverted to GOJ whaling program

  • @Debito,
    One of the communities washed away by the tsunami (Ayukawahama, Ishinomaki-shi) was a town that was involved in the whaling industry. I suspect that this miss-use of funds will be justified under the banner of the governments promise to ‘rebuild all communities’ affected by the disaster. It’s a shame on many levels. Not least because there is no sense in rebuilding communities that had no economic future, an average age of over 60, and a demographic pattern that doesn’t inspire hope. Surely decontamination costs are more importantly met first?

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    The corruption is beyond repair. It just gives us the message like below:

    “Violate your rights, no more equality
    Surrender freedom, your Social Security
    We the people face unconstitutional lies
    In greed we trust, before revolution we die”

    “We the people”

    If any of you are a dye-in-the-wool Megadeth fan— Sorry Debito(!), these lyrics will keep spinning in your head for 24 hours 🙂

  • Another source:

    Japan funding whaling hunt with disaster budget


    — I noticed that there wasn’t the typical link to the same article in Japanese. Anyway…


    Japan funding whaling hunt with disaster budget

    TOKYO (AP) — Japan is spending 2.3 billion yen ($29 million) from its supplementary budget for tsunami reconstruction to fund the country’s annual whaling hunt in the Antarctic Ocean, a fisheries official confirmed Thursday.

    Tatsuya Nakaoku, a Fisheries Agency official in charge of whaling, defended the move, saying the funding helps support Japan’s whaling industry as a whole, including some whaling towns along the devastated northeastern coast. One ship on the hunt is based in Ishinomaki, a town hit badly by the March 11 tsunami, he said.

    The budget request was made to beef up security and maintain the “stable operation” of Japan’s research whaling, he said, which has faced increasingly aggressive interference from boats with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

    Conservationist group Greepeace blasted the funding move, claiming it was siphoning money away from disaster victims.

    The Japanese government has passed supplementary budgets totalling 18 trillion yen ($230 billion) for reconstruction after the March 11 tsunami. Nearly all the items are rebuilding projects, including nearly 500 billion yen for fisheries projects directly in the region, but some, including the whaling expedition, appear less directly related.

    Media reports said Japan’s annual whaling expedition left Shimonoseki in southern Japan on Tuesday with plans to cull 900 whales, mostly minke whales, which are not endangered.

    Japanese officials didn’t confirm departure details, citing safety reasons. But Coast Guard spokesman Masahiro Ichijo said this year’s fleet is carrying “the biggest protection ever,” including an unspecified number of Coast Guard officers, safety equipment and a Fisheries Agency patrol ship.

    He said the announcement of the deployment of coast guard officials “would serve as a deterrent” against attacks by the conservationist groups.

    “We have no intention to show off our capability to respond to their attacks or declare a fight,” Ichijo said.

    Each year, protesters try to harass the whaling fleet into stopping the hunt Japan says is a scientific exemption from an international moratorium on commercial whaling.

    The protesters say whale research does not require killing the animals, and Japan’s scientific program amounts to commercial whaling in disguise because surplus meat is sold. Whale meat, however, is not widely eaten in Japan.

    Clashes between the two sides often take place, and last January a Sea Shepherd boat was sunk after its bow was sheared off in a collision with a whaling ship. The hunting season runs from about December through February.

    (Mainichi Japan) December 9, 2011

  • its not really surprising at all to me. japan is determined to keep its whaling industry operational at some level, and the funds will come from one place or another.

    i speculate that the reason they are so keen to keep their whaling industry has to do with japans low food self-sufficiency rate. they want to have the option to drastically ramp up the slaughter in the event of a global food crisis.

  • This is a disgrace of the highest level. I don’t even know where to start. So I won’t cos I’ll get off on a rant, and the weather is actually kind of pleasant outside. Bottom line, these dogs in Nagata-cho have no shame. What a waste where good could be done, like yes, decontaminating parks, rivers, pools and schools where their children and grandchildren play. Testing the food supply? Making sure we don’t let babies consume radiated milk products? Honestly, WTF?

  • Poor form, GoJ. I’m not against whaling, but some kind of awareness of the sensitivity on the part of your donors never goes astray. How would you like your aid to, say, India to be funnelled directly into their nuclear weapons programme? Use the top two inches, boys.

  • I think it would be reasonable to consider whether the locals themselves think this is a good use of finite resources before making claims of govt corruption and moral bankruptcy. (I don’t presume to know the answer myself but clearly whaling is a significant industry in that area.)

    — The taxes being spent are not specifically local. It’s from a national budget.

  • beneaththewheel says:

    I think Jim got it: there’s been a damaged whaling town, and the money is being used to getting the town back to the way it was.

    Does giving money to the industry in general help the one town? Murky territory.

    Is funding being used similarly in other industries with similar rational? I’d love to know.

    Should they put things back to the way they were as opposed to a more efficient (and arguably ethical) way? Interesting debate question (one I side against the Japanese gov’t on). Liberty vs. efficiency is another way to put it.

    Should the donations they received be with strings attached? I don’t think so. I’m not for whaling, but I don’t think how donated money is used should be dictated by foreign countries, whether it be Japan or anywhere else. If there is a string attached, the only one should be “to help the areas affected” and they are arguably doing that.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    The simple sell is that the GOJ is protecting Japanese culture.
    I asked my wife what she thought – wouldn’t the money be better spent on schools, hospitals, etc.?
    “The culture of eating whale meat blah, blah, blah”

    Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

    — My conclusion is that she probably doesn’t feel specifically affected by the disaster, so protecting Japanese culture is the default.

  • The question is, why does Japan have to spend an extra 2.3 bn yen?
    It is because Japan chooses to protect its citizens.
    If there would be no violent demonstrations (sea shepherd, etc), there would be no need for this extra budget.
    By protecting the fleet, it also deescalates the situation. No more deliberate ramming of catamarans into the hulls of much bigger ships also means that the lives of New Zealanders will be protected.

    Re #6:
    The money comes from the extra budget of the government, and is NOT money collected from individuals.
    If it would not be spent from THIS gov. budget, it would be spend from ANOTHER one.
    Even though the choice of the budget (disaster relief and rebuilding) is a bit poor, the money would have been spent anyway.

    Also, there will NOT be park left contaminated because of this. Money is the leats concern. Much more problematic is the stigma that the communities feel. Some community majors prefer NOT to be on the decontamination list, because of that. Which is a crime, in my eyes.

    Re #1:
    Your argument that there is ‘no sense in rebuilding communities that had no economic future, an average age of over 60, and a demographic pattern that doesn’t inspire hope’, is kind of cold hearted.
    We bloggers here are all cosmopolitan, world-travelling, young people.
    But can we tell our parents to move out of the town where they were born and lived their whole lives?
    I can’t.
    The question that needs to be asked is: How can we (and I include myself) rebuilt communities that HAVE a future?

  • Fixing the system, as opposed to merely futzing with it, will require galvanizing much more of the populace. I submit that there is one thing–and it may be the only thing–that can transform Japan’s submissive, insular and non-involved public, and that is changing the composition of the public itself. In other words, what is needed is a steadily increasing influx of foreign-born people making this galapagos their home. Having brought with them some of the non-Japanese sensibilities of their birthplaces–presumably including concepts of fairness and justice–and given the systemic discrimination that they are bound to face, their discontent would eventually make itself known in one way or another. There is strength in numbers, and a critical mass of foreign-born dissenting immigrants agitating for change–in ways big and small–would create a climate of crisis that could no longer be ignored. Granted the transition might not be smooth, and what would constitute a critical mass is anyone’s guess. For every fathom the ship sinks the J-government seems to merely batten down another hatch, so who knows what is actually possible regarding increasing the immigrant population? Moreover, a decision to accept substantially greater numbers of non-natives might itself signal the beginning of the end of the status quo. At any rate, I would be interested in learning if there are any civic groups working specifically toward this end.

  • @Olaf

    ‘Re #1:…’, ‘How can we (and I include myself) rebuilt communities that HAVE a future?’
    The point I was making is that the community in question had a pre-tsunami future of about 20 years. After which it’s population would be approaching zero due to ‘natural wastage’ (that’s death due to age related illness to you). This community had no real future! So, I ask again, with a national debt approaching 205% of GDP, and almost 700 of every 1000 tax yen needed to pay the just the interest on government borrowing, Japan doesn’t have the luxury of getting ‘sentimental about granny’, does it?

  • @Andrew In Saitama

    A recent post by pro-whaling NJ blogger, Kujirakira, caught my attention recently (see link):

    Interestingly, the results of an opinion poll conducted amongst the Japanese recently shows that whilst 52% of Japanese are in favor of the whale hunt, 41% have no interest in eating whale meat.
    For me this is interesting because it supported research I did 6 years ago that showed that whilst the vast majority of the Japanese I surveyed believed that Japanese ‘traditional culture’ should be protected, only a clear minority were actually active in the continuation of such traditions. I concluded that the symbolic value of these activities labeled as ‘traditional Japanese culture’ were well understood by the Japanese public, but no-one wants to give up the comforts of their westernized lifestyle (for example; faming, tatami, and futon were far less popular than office jobs, carpets, and a bed). Vlastos did some interesting research into UK traditions that showed how the more disconnected from everyday realities and practicalities a codified behavior becomes, the more likely it is to assume ‘cultural’ significance and transcend logic (ie; UK judges wearing wigs in court long after the wearing of wigs ceased to be the everyday fashion).
    I think we can see this pattern repeated in the default attitude the Japanese have towards whaling. The ‘it must be continued because it is traditional’ meme. Funny how other ‘traditions’ (such as everyday wearing of kimono) are allowed to slide, isn’t it? (i would suggest that this is because wearing a kimono everyday requires effort, whereas 52% can support the whale hunt because the only effort required to do so is to open their mouths).

  • If you want to protect the fleet, appropriate the funds for it in the open. no problem. There’s been serious issues with grew peace conduct, notwithstanding the moral pitfalls of Japanese whaling not being based on demand.

    But the way this has been done is a metaphor for all that is wrong with Japanese politics nationally at it’s core.

    This money, set aside for earthquake relief, should be going direct to infrastructure programs for this fictional or real “whaling” town if it’s necessary. I call bulls$&@. They’ll do what they want, and stuff you little people who pay income tax.

  • Agreed, Debito. The Japanese government (and by default all other governments)is irredeemable. This reinforces the importance of NGO’s, and shows this and other governments, who won’t lift a finger over this charade, are corrupt and self-serving. Let’s face it, who has more money, whalers or thousands of people who have lost absolutely everything?

  • I think I’ve said this before, but I feel as if the area is becoming another Okinawa. “The “greater good” of the nation must come first, so you guys just take the hit for us.”

  • Whaling is not commercially sustainable. It is almost fully funded by taxpayers. On this basis alone it should be scrapped (I don’t have any opinion on the scientific or moral aspects of whaling). GOJ is funding a moribund industry with public money, this is against any economic rationality (well this is socialism).
    Using disaster funds for whaling is a disgrace and an insult to victims and donators.

    — Let’s have a source for it being almost fully funded by taxpayers.

  • “Let’s have a source for it being almost fully funded by taxpayers.”

    Let me rephrase it. The whole operation would run at lost if subsidies were not provided by the government.

    Below are some excerpts of the 2009 report “Sink or Swim : The Economics of Whaling Today” by WWF and WDCS:

     Sales of whale meat, blubber and other products have made losses for almost all of the last 20 years. Overall sales of whaling by-products have made a loss of around US$ 223 million since 1988 (see figure A).
     In 2008/09 the whaling industry in Japan needed a subsidy approaching US$ 12 million in order to break even.
     Overall cummulative subsidies reported since 1988 come to $164 million.
     Wholesale prices of whale meat per kg in Japan have been falling since 1994, starting at
    just over US$ 30/kg in 1994, and declining to US$ 16.4/kg in 2006.
     The average amount of whale products in stockpile inventories in the main cold-stores (about 40% of total refrigeration capacity) shows an increase from around 1500 tonnes in 1997 to around 4000 tonnes in recent years (since 2005).

    — Thanks. Just send me the link too and I’ll include it with this comment.

  • I think that the BBC news headline “Japan uses Tsunami relief money to fund annual whale hunt” was extremely enflaming and a more than a little misleading. Yesterday the Japanese embassy issued a statement on its website stating that “No tsunami relief money has been, or will be, used to fund whale hunting”. And by the looks of things this appears to be the case, with the money instead coming from a seperate fund. Whatever your opinion of the governments financial support of whaling im pretty dissapointed in the way that this has been reported in the foreign press. If a another tsunami were to happen tomorrow i think some people are now think twice before donating anything -especially if it all just goes towards killing whales. Dissapointing.

  • @ Jim,re “Japanese I surveyed believed that Japanese ‘traditional culture’ should be protected, only a clear minority were actually active in the continuation of such traditions. I concluded that the symbolic value of these activities labeled as ‘traditional Japanese culture’ were well understood by the Japanese public, but no-one wants to give up the comforts of their westernized lifestyle (for example; faming, tatami, and futon were far less popular than office jobs, carpets, and a bed). ”

    Again, Baudrillard would say most of post modern Japanese “traditional culture” is arguably dead, and we just have the simulation of it. “Whaling” is not a Japanese tradition; since when have Japanese been sailing all the way to Antarctica? Other examples include the “key money” tradition (invented by dodgy landlords after world war 2 only, continued in the name of “tradition”).Ditto the examples you mention above in the survey results.

    The symbols of “tradition” refer to a fake tradition and a fake reality. Its all tatemae. The reality is that modern Japan lives an overwhelmingly “Asian American” lifestyle. No one likes to admit being a satellite state, so like the symbols of democracy in communist Eastern Europe, Japan retains symbols of “Japan” (whatever that means) to save face.

  • @ Andrew in Saitama, I m not attacking you but I cannot resist posing a question to your wife:

    “Does she enjoy living in a simulated reality?”

    I think that is why Japan-until recently-was such a “comfortable”-albeit expensive- place to live in. So long as one does not think too hard, especially about the future.

    I wanted one, so I left.

  • @ 20 Michael Smith: I also protested sharply, and the embassy in Germany sent a brief message like you speak of. It was not signed with a name, though. And in general I a wondering: why should we belief these statements more than those in the media of various countries? Not that I tend to believe the media, but I believe Japanese institutions even less, since March. So, as an honest question: why should we consider that to have credibility? Even more, the German news spoke, inter alia, about using the money for raising security during the whale hunting. If we get into words: Money spent for security could be considered not to be support of the hunting as such (by the Japanese government, i.e.). I am not really convinced.

  • Whaling as a simulation of Japanese tradition, tatemae, and arbitrary decisions as postmodernist absurdity:

    Baudrillard theorizes that the lack of distinctions between reality and simulacra originates in several phenomena:

    4.Urbanization, which separates humans from the natural world.

    Aha. Now Japan is highly urbanized; I believe 80% of the population live in 12% of the land, ie the Tokyo-Nagoya-Kansai strip. So therefore whether or not whales are hunted is of little concern to this population. If they actually ate whales, it would make more sense to support hunting, but it is just indifference (the true opposite of love, in Mother Teresas words). CHECK.

    5.Language and ideology, in which language is used to obscure rather than reveal reality when used by dominant, politically powerful groups.

    Ah, tatemae. Obscuring meaning to maintain harmony rather than communicate differences of opinion. CHECK.

    Sign order- The third stage masks the absence of a profound reality, where the WHALING simulacrum pretends to be a faithful copy of *JAPANESE TRADITION*, but it is a copy with no original. Signs and images claim to represent something real *in TRADITION*, but no representation is taking place and arbitrary images (*OR arbitrary decisions to close “Dance bars”*) are merely suggested as things which they have no relationship to.

    Baudrillard calls this the “order of sorcery” but I think this is too cool a name for what is just a screwed up society in denial or indifference about too many issues (because its not PC to say “problems”, lol).

  • Aha, more Whaling as fake j culture; found this priceless fact on wikipedia, the copy culture replaces, in fact destroying the “real” fishing culture of Japan:

    “However, at the start of the 20th century local traditions conflicted with modern whaling practices. In 1911 the conflict turned violent in Same Village, Aomori Prefecture. Ocean pollution from the whaling stations, including large quantities of oil and blood runoff, angered the local fishermen and threatened their own fishing grounds. In protest the fishermen burned a Toyo Hogei facility down. The people of the Same region also did not consume whales and considered them sacred.[23]”

    Hear that, GOJ? The whale is sacred. Said Japanese people. Listen to your people and the real traditions of Local Japan, not the urbanized simulations and modern myths that only refer to….other created modern myths of culture.

  • The whole culture reasoning wears thin after a while and is kinda silly and lacks logic. Stoning people is also culture in some countries. Is that ok?

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @Baudrillard, 26

    Oh my goodness. I’ve never expected to see such a French post-modern scholar right here in this forum. You’re giving me an asthma attack. I’m still laughing.

    I agree with you. It’s quite ironic to see the contradictions with Team Japan’s public discourse through the practice of cultural preservation over political correctness. Regarding the term you’re trying to apply to Japanese context, I guess it’s something like ‘Oriental kitch’ or Jacques Lacan’s ‘imaginary’ and/or ‘the symbolic’–taken from his three orders. (

    Anyway, my contention is that this incident clearly reflects the problem with the state of capitalism today. It doesn’t create jobs for the people to make a living for their life. Rather, they are being exploited, ignored, ostracized, punished, and stigmatized for being the burden of the state and capitalists, while those powers-that-be are, as always, taking care of their business for their own profits.

    — Oh my goodness. We’re starting to get really off track. Bring it back.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    I did want to bring up other “cultural” arguments but thought they were too off topic for this thread. Here goes – I’ll try to bring it all back.

    Japan – or rather, parts of Japan (the Tottori/Shimane region) – have or had a tradition of eating dog. I’ve spoken with several people who have independently confirmed this. Yet the majority of Japanese people are blissfully ignorant of this, or will deny it (I suspect the association of eating dog meat with China and Korea is also behind the knee-jerk denial).
    Badger and raccoon dog were also eaten. Yet most people today find this concept disgusting.

    Most Japanese I’ve spokent to are also unaware that whaling was an important economic activity in most maritime cultures, but the majority of countries gave it up due to its economic unviability and ecological impact.

    Japan claims to be 100% self sufficient in rice production, but is only around 40% self-sufficient in food production. Wow, it looks like the Japanese population is not happy eating just rice. (And I’m never thanked for pointing out that rice is not native to Japan, and for at least half of Japanese history, acorns were the staple diet…)

    Bringing it back, so please bear with me.

    From WWII, it took bearly one generation for the Japanese to transform themselves from the starving millions to the gourmet empire, but with an undercurrent of “food as national identity”. Whale was a principal dish in school lunches and became a source of national identity.
    To attack the dish is to attack the person.

    So, the nation at large feels that whaling must be continued, even without any rational reason for doing so. The culture of the nation (real or imagined) must be protected from disaster or foreign resistance.

  • To really bring it back, it just hearkens back to the people of Kobe, who still hold grudges against the GOJ for not standing by them in 1995; resentment followed by apathy has been bred amongst the people, and while we may not see a “bottom up revolution” as Debito san states, these sentiments will make it difficult for government and people to truly exist together.

  • I think Japan has serious moral hazard, that is, those shall be punished never got it. Capitalize the profit, socialize the cost.

    The other problem is that Japanese society is fall into feel-good society.
    People don’t want face or listen any UNHAPPY thing. Especially if its truth.I just passed this news to some JP friends. ALL of their response is like “if’s a fake news” or “do you know green-peace is terrorist?”

    Another problem is that Japan has very strong cultural feel ashamed of making mistake..especially small mistake. On the other hand, they forgive big one.
    Nassim Taleb (arthur of The Black Swan) was talking about it

  • What’s become clear to many, sadly not enough though, is that this government blatantly exists to perpetuate it’s own self interest, as a hierarchal, even inheritable seat of power. The people be damned.

    It’s so sad. And people will suffer for it. There is no coming back. This apparatus cannot adapt to the changing world.

  • As I understood it MacArthur encouraged whaling during the occupation according to one of his translation staff see Finn, R.B. (1992). Winners in Peace: MacArthur, Yoshida and Postwar Japan. Berkeley: Berkeley University of California Press.

    — Probably due to food shortages, from what I’ve heard.


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