New Zealand Is Out to Tarnish Japan's Reputation Over Whaling, or so Says Japan's Public Broadcaster


Poster for whale cuisine near Hirome Market, Kochi City, Japan. Courtesy Nevin Thompson

New Zealand's opposition to whaling in the Southern Ocean is getting some heat from the Japanese establishment, and the Japanese people who are paying attention are voicing their displeasure online over the response.

On September 19, New Zealand's proposal to tighten rules for “scientific whaling” was approved by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) at a meeting in Slovenia. The IWC passed a resolution to uphold the recent International Court of Justice ruling that Japan's scientific whaling in Antarctica was illegal and no permits should be issued for whaling research in the future without proof of scientific necessity.

Japan has stated its intention to create a new research plan and resume killing of whales in the name of science. New Zealand's proposal makes it difficult for Japan to come up with a scientific programme acceptable to the commission. 

The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986. However, critics outside of Japan have long argued the scientific whaling exception is used as a ruse to continue commercial whaling.

New Zealand's successful campaign to make “scientific whaling” more difficult to carry out seems to have annoyed the powers-that-be in Japan. Twitter user @unorthodox_TW posted a screen capture of NHK's News Watch 9 program's analysis of the IWC decision last week.

News Watch 9's graphic states: “New Zealand's real aim: to damage Japan's international reputation.” 

It's strange that nobody in NHK thought to stop this from going on air in the first place.

New Watch 9's analysis comes in the wake of an ongoing government campaign aimed at ensuring NHK, previously an impartial public broadcaster, now promotes state views on political issues.

Corey Wallace, a well-known New Zealand commentator on northeast Asian security issues, who lectures on China, Japan and East Asia at the University of Auckland, took to Twitter to call NHK's analysis “truly childish and intentionally dishonest.”

So far Wallace's tweet has been retweeted nearly more than 400 times.

The row was initially picked up by Twitter aggregator Togettor, which noted:



視聴者の目に飛び込んできたのは、画面いっぱいにデカデカと書かれた「ニュージーランド真のねらい 日本の国際的イメージ悪化」のキャプション──。


NHK Provokes New Zealand Spat

News Watch's 9's September 17 take on the IWC decision in Slovenia will leave one dumbfounded… Japan's neighboring northeast Asian countries, who are used to being snarled at by the Japanese media must be saying to themselves, “Ah, so we're not the only ones…”

Some Japanese Twitter users seem to think that the Japanese establishment's reaction to New Zealand's successful IWC proposal was over the top, and question the real purpose of Japan's “scientific whaling” program in the Southern Ocean and off Antarctica:

I don't think anyone will pay any attention in New Zealand. Everyone knows that when it comes to whaling, Japan can be a little irrational.

Others point out that the Japanese government's assertion that the whaling is for scientific purposes is a little hard to take seriously:

While it's supposed to be ‘scientific whaling,’ isn't the real reason Japan is hunting whales because you want to eat them? Why not be up front about it?” the international community must be saying. While Japan has repeatedly argued in front of international courts that it is pursuing a scientific whaling program, the reality is the Diet cafeteria is serving whale meat curry to the nation's politicians.

For those who wish to follow the whaling issue, including the fallout of the recent IWC vote, the Kujira Clipping Blog (Japanese) is a great place to start.

The whaling issue does not appear to be going away any time soon. While Japan will continue to press on with its efforts to continue with its scientific whaling program, whales themselves received some attention at the world's largest rally so far for climate change:


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  • daveinks

    If Japan wants to improve their “international reputation” they can simply stop whaling. It’s really simple.

  • Japan’s obsession with whaling completely contradicts old Shinto traditions and values. The statements below are from the Jinja Honcho, the head of all Shinto shrines in Japan:

    “From ancient times, Japanese people have faced nature and invisible existence with awe and appreciation.”

    “But in fact, the Japanese spirituality inherited from the ancient ancestors has been gradually lost or hidden somewhere deep in our consciousness. It might not be an exaggeration if we said that not only environmental problems but also all problems of modern society have been caused by lack of the awe, reverence, and appreciation for nature that ancient people used to have and taught us. ”

    “Environmental issues, after all, depend on our self-awareness of the problems and our determination to take responsibility.”


    • Nevin Thompson

      See “cognitive dissonance.”

      • I’m in an AP Psych class. The term applies perfectly. Some people just don’t get it.

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