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Having a whale of a time in Japan

By John Tomlinson - posted Monday, 11 July 2005

The Japanese Government, as a result of its steadfast endeavour to carry out scientific whaling whenever and wherever it pleases, is making a huge contribution to our understanding of the cultural importance of killing large sea mammals. Without such determination to carry on in the face of firm resistance, people all round the world would be groping for explanations for such bushido behaviour. Japan’s strenuous efforts at the World Whaling Commission to enhance the planet’s understanding of thousands of scientific recipes for whale sushi have been applauded by countries as scientifically advanced as Togo and Kiribati.

What Australians generally, and their scientists in particular, have failed to acknowledge is the huge advances that Japanese whalers have made in developing algebraic scales to determine exactly how dead the whales are when they are hauled on to the decks of the factory ships. On top of this, scientific precision has been brought to bear to develop more advanced flensing knives so that whale meat can be stripped from the carcasses with greater alacrity.

Had Japan not persevered with its detailed analysis of whales’ abdomens, then scientific agencies in Fourth World countries would be unaware that occasionally whales ingest fish. Thanks to the Japanese research, fisheries surveillance officers can now begin research to find ways to warn fish, swimming in whale-infested waters, of the possibility of being eaten if they swim to close to whales’ mouths. A spokesperson for the Japanese Government, Passtha Soy, pointed out, “Had Japan not been able to reveal that whales can ingest fish then scientific officers dissecting whales could have died of fright had they accidentally stumbled across a fish in a whale’s stomach”.


It seems that governments in many First World countries are downplaying the contribution that such scientific research has contributed to enhance explosive harpoon technology. The Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi warned against such complacency, pointing out that although it had been over a century since Moby Dick roamed the oceans, there is always the possibility of rogue whales falling into the hands of terrorist organisations and being used to attack vessels on the high seas.

Senator Bob Brown, of the Australian Greens, claimed, “Prime Minister Koizumi is engaged in a cynical exercise. He’s trying to create hysteria in the White House and to disguise the fact that scientific whaling is a ploy designed to legitimise the trade in whale meat.”

The Director of the Deagon Institute, Dr Iwishi Could, declared, “There are so many hysterical Cassandras from the pro-whaling nations at the World Whaling Commission who proclaim that civilisation will end if they are not allowed to slaughter whales that the organisation should be re-named the World Wailing Commission”. He went on to add, “Australia cannot let Japan make all the running in the science surrounding whaling”.

Dr Could said, “The Deagon Institute would like to conduct a selective scientific cull of Japanese whalers. We intend to break down their bodies into their constituent parts with the aid of micro-slicers, starting with their extremities.” He added, “At the institute we feel that such an investigation would be likely to reveal a use for the whalers and add greatly to scientific knowledge”.

Senator Ian Campbell, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, announced the Australian Government was looking at a number of plans to police Australia’s southern oceans. He did, however, rule out support for the Deagon Institute’s proposal.

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About the Author

Dr John Tomlison is a visiting scholar at QUT.

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