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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:54 03/09/2007
News Review #327: December 22, 2005

Battle to Stop Japan Whalers

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

Battle to Stop Japan Whalers
World News Australia®ion=2


Exactly because of their reputation for having common sense, it is interesting to find Australians become emotional and irrational at times. And a sure shot thing is the whales.

Many people really like animals. Some people like dogs, some cats, then horses, doves, snakes, ostriches, and the list goes on. There are also many people who do not enjoy killing - of any living thing. But as human beings, we understand ourselves to be, except perhaps in certain, and now rare, religious circles, a species of animal which must obtain nutrition by consuming other life forms, be it animal or plant.

From ancient times, humans have killed animals for food. In fact, during recent centuries, people often killed animals not to survive, but to serve their greed, by calling it - so as to disguise the savagery - to improve peoples' living standards. It occurred mostly in the West, not necessarily because they were more brutal but because they were ahead in the so-called civilization process. Buffalos were hunted for the fur, and whales were hunted to squeeze oil from their bodies - then discarding the meat - to light lamps in then-civilized cities. It was only during the last few decades that people in those supposedly civilized societies began to recognize the value - even the holiness - of the existence of life as is.

There are other sorts of cultures that took different routes from the West, Hindus do not eat beef because they consider cows as sacred, Muslims do not eat pork because they consider pigs are impure and tainted. Japanese have caught whales for at least half a millennium as a rare and valuable gift from the gods. They did not leave any part of the whale unused, meet for food, skin for clothes and shelter, bone for tools and fishhooks, and so on. Then they would honor the whale at the village shrine and thank for sacrificing its life to provide food and shelter for the people.

Chinese eat dogs, Australians eat ostriches, and Americans eat cows. When asked why they eat cows while opposing others to eat whales, an American replied, "Because cows are born to be eaten by the people." Another replied that cows are all right to kill because they were intentionally raised by the people to be killed whereas whales were not raised by any specific people with purpose. It should be very interesting to hear what cows would want to say to those comments.

Another critical point missed in the anti-whale discussion is the legality. Arguably, there are ridiculous and absurd laws in any jurisdiction. Everyone recognizes not everyone supports all the laws of the land. But human beings have leaned it hard way that a legal framework - better yet it is established in a democratic society - and to abide by it is the optimum system to run a society - at least thus far.

It is well noted that there are people against catching whales. But the present rules as established in the international community do allow certain types and volume of whale catching. Accordingly, an attempt to stop the catching by attacking the law-abiding whaling ship constitutes an act of illegality. In more humble terms, what happens if a bunch of activists claiming the rights of ostrich break into an ostrich meatpacking factory and (successfully) jeopardize the operation?

Catching a few whales cannot harm the environment per se. Australians are known be fair and sophisticated people. They would certainly stop slaughtering ostriches before beginning to accuse the Japanese for catching whales.

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