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In Japan they eat whale meat...

by grimgraphix / May 27, 2007 1:29 AM PDT

... but would never dream of eating dogs. China, on the other hand, raises dogs as a delicacy and millions of the critters go onto the dinner menu every Chinese new year.

I found this a thoughtful article about whaling.


Cruelty and the kitchen

I had come to Japan for the BBC's One Planet programme, to look at where whaling sits in the history and culture of a country which gets a huge proportion of its food from the sea.

In most parts of Europe and North America whales have become iconic, sacrosanct, no more to be killed or hurt than your close relative.

But in the Japanese view, they are a wild natural resource to be used, just like fish or lobsters or rabbits or boar.

Firstly there is conservation. There is a popular view that all whales are endangered - and many species are, but by no means all. And it certainly was not Japan that drove some species towards extinction.

The Americans, Brits and Norwegians did that, with a bit of help from the rest of Europe and its former colonies. Has it become convenient to blame Japan?

Back in Tokyo, I sat one evening in a sushi restaurant dining with a young, modern urban Japanese lady who was tucking into some raw whale.

I asked whether she would ever eat dog. She looked shocked. No, no, she told me, it would be unthinkable - but her whale was delicious.

So why the contradiction? Why is it OK to eat horses in France and Italy but not in Britain? Why do Finns proudly serve reindeer, and Icelanders puffin, while others recoil at the thought of eating them?

Does every society concoct its own list of what is acceptable and what is not?

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Change of heart?
by EdH / May 27, 2007 1:33 AM PDT

Thought you were dead set against hunting whales for food.

And who doesn't like puffin? Yum!

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Never said I approved...
by grimgraphix / May 27, 2007 2:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Change of heart?

... nor disapproved of whaling. I do take a stance against expanded and or unlimited whaling including endangered species.

For my personal position? Since whale meat does not and never has provided a substantial portion of the Japanese diet except for a few select coastal towns I see no reason for the pressure of commercial interests to try and create a market in Japan. I have Japanese friends who have never eaten whale in their lifetimes. To me, the fact that the government found itself stuck with a surplus of the meat and tried giving it away (with limited success) in school lunch programs is illuminating. Thus, an effort to create a large market demand for whale meat in Japan strikes me as the same as a food company coming out with a new commercial campaign along the lines of...

"Elephant... the OTHER, Other white meat!"

Sure it's tasty, and in parts of Africa elephant has been part of the diet Also elephants have proven destructive in some agricultural areas, but does that justify a sudden campaign to create a demand for elephant as food? In the case of whales, Japan and some other countries would make the commercial argument that whale is a needed resource... yet if Japan is in such desperate straights then why is whale meat being used for dog food? I would argue that this "demand" is being manufactured by lobbyist's for corporate interests and not by a pressing need for food.

No Ed... the question in my mind is why create a demand for whale when there never was a large desire on the part of the Japanese population to begin with? The article I posted mentions "Whale meat was not everywhere, as tuna or tofu are, but in every city I visited I came across at least one restaurant which served it in some form." How many whale meat restaurants are to be found compared to McDonalds or KFCs?

Naw man... whale meat was never the main course for japanese housewives' nightly dinner menus so why create a demand for it now? Just because we can? Just to put a thousand yen in someone's pocket?

Anyway... enjoy the week end. Want to come over to my place for dinner? They were running a special on Hippopotamus at the local butcher shop! The Other, Other, Other white meat! Plenty of them left right? No reason to worry about their conservation just yet. Too bad we ran out of West African Black Rhino and passenger pigeon! I understand they were really tasty!

Wink

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Why create a demand for whale?
by EdH / May 27, 2007 3:05 AM PDT

Because there are whalers whose jobs depend on it? If you can find other employment for them, then I guess you can justify putting them out of business.

As long as it's legal, they have the right to sell it. If there's truly no demand it will diminish with time.

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That doesn't make a whole lot of sense...
by grimgraphix / May 27, 2007 4:51 AM PDT

to argue in favor of uncontrolled whale fishing "Because there are whalers whose jobs depend on it?"

First... How many whalers' jobs are there Ed? Is it a situation where their economy depends on the occupation? If it's 1000 jobs then should the industry be protected? Ten thousand jobs? If that is the case then what about the tens and tens of thousands of american auto industry jobs lost through Ford, GM and soon to be Chrysler job reductions? Why be so concerned about whaling jobs and not all the TV plants that closed in the US over the past 10 years? Did you know that not a single TV manufacturer still produces a set in the US today? How many TV's do you have in your house Ed? Where were you when those jobs needed protecting?

Second... Are you arguing in favor of protecting a cultural tradition or are you talking about protectionist trade policies here? When Japan is giving away free whale meat like our government gives away free cheese I have to wonder if the industry is being propped up by the Japanese government.

Consequently... where is the demand? I have documented in the past about the whale meat lunch programs and the dog food. Are you saying that this would indicate a real "demand" for the product? If it ends up not being for human consumption does that mean whales should still be pursued as a cheap source of pet food? If true, then why not once again hunt wild mustangs in the west for dog food? If it's a valuable commodity your after then let us just hunt whales for the ambergris. Let us just slit them open and leave the carcass behind or sell it for pet food.

I'm not saying you don't raise some questions worth addressing Ed. I will say that from all I have read that the concerns you raise just don't amount to economy shaking proportions though.

Then there is the issue of "legality". I have to ask if something is legal and someone can make a buck from it then does that also make it advisable? Of course that raises the issue of why have so many occupations been phased out of existence because the activity was made illegal? For example, just what is so wrong with the rhino horn trade? For that matter, why should so many things be regulated if they don't hurt humans?

Of course the question of legality as far as whaling goes is that there are treaties and moratoriums that make limits very real. The Japanese along with several other countries would like to change these limits or in some cases remove them. Again, are they doing it because of an urgent demand for food resources... or on the urging of an industry lobbyist trying to grow a market? It is OK if you say you think the market should be grown. It sounds more believable than the saw about whaling jobs being indispensable.


Bottom line is this... no economy in the world depends on whaling for survival. Yes, jobs are on the line but if that is your real worry and if one is truly in favor of competition then we should have no limits on any fisheries for any reason. I ask you honestly here Ed... do you really think the oceans are inexhaustible or is your insistence on fighting for whalers rights just you being irascible?

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No economy in the world depends on whaling for survival...
by EdH / May 27, 2007 5:35 AM PDT

So what? no economy in the world depends on lots of different things for survival. Just because YOU have a problem with it, doesn't mean they shouldn't do it.

If you want it outlawed, then lobby for that. Until then, as long as it's legal they have a right to do it.

Pay attention, PLEASE! I didn't say the market should be grown. I didn't say whaling jobs were indispensable. Most of the attitudes you attribute to me are not attitudes I have. You asked: why create a demand for it now? I provided an answer. You have built a bunch straw men and surprise! Knocked them down. But they are YOUR constructs, not mine.

You have not made a good case for outlawing whaling yet, which really what you need to do to get anywhere close to being convincing. Whether people eat it but not enough people eat it or it's used for pet food or whatever are not relevant. Show us how it's harming someone...

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Talk about putting words in someone's mouth.
by grimgraphix / May 27, 2007 6:00 AM PDT

Outlawing? When did I say outlaw?

You love to exaggerate for the effect of it don't you. Please, PLEASE quit with the distortions and hyperbole.

You never did address what is so wrong with the rhino horn trade. After all... "Show us how it's harming someone..."

I think my question about being irascible has been answered.

Happy

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I might add...
by grimgraphix / May 27, 2007 7:05 AM PDT

... please quit saying I'm attributing things to you when I clearly do not.

"Pay attention, PLEASE! I didn't say the market should be grown." - uuum... I never said you did. I said...

"I see no reason for the pressure of commercial interests to try and create a market in Japan. "


There are other points I could belabor but I will just say that not once during this thread did I say you held a belief in anything. Indeed, I was particularly careful to phrase speculation as just that. I asked questions of you Ed, which you neglected to answer in most part. You made your own points and I even gave you credit for raising them. Consequently quit acting the outraged and maligned party. You don't want to answer my questions then fine... but don't play the your making assumptions about what I think card because... in this thread... I never did.

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Talk about splitting hairs...
by EdH / May 27, 2007 7:29 AM PDT
In reply to: I might add...

try and create a market..grow a market. Yeah, big difference there.

OR..

It is OK if you say you think the market should be grown. It sounds more believable than the saw about whaling jobs being indispensable. I didn't say either of those did I? So what words was I putting in your mouth? Hmmmm?

Geez!

not once during this thread did I say you held a belief in anything. Well, no, you never said, Ed, you believe...blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. But you did imply plenty: to argue in favor of uncontrolled whale fishing "Because there are whalers whose jobs depend on it?" But I did NOT argue in favor of...anything. See? I just answered your question. THAT'S ALL.

Are you arguing in favor of protecting a cultural tradition or are you talking about protectionist trade policies here? Umm..neither. I am not arguing anything. What I said was very clear and I think easy to follow.

And so on...

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Okay, concentrate...
by EdH / May 27, 2007 7:14 AM PDT
Outlawing? When did I say outlaw? You didn't. I didn't say you did. I said the whaling was legal, thus it seems your only recourse would be to try to get it outlawed. Otherwise, mind your own business. I do believe people should be allowed to do things that are legal and that if you object you should try to make those things illegal, NOT violate people's legal rights. Radical concept for you?

You love to exaggerate for the effect of it don't you. Nope. I never do that. What did I exaggerate? Please, PLEASE quit with the distortions and hyperbole. I don't do that either. Please point out for me the distortions (by me) and hyperbole. You do that all the time, but I don't.

You never did address what is so wrong with the rhino horn trade. I believe it is illegal. Aside from that, nothing. After all... "Show us how it's harming someone..." I didn't say that about rhino horns. I said it about whaling. You can make a case that the rhino horn trade is causing rhinos to become extinct (if that's important). You have not made a convincing argument that the Japanese are causing whales to become extinct. Some whales are illegal to hunt, I believe.

I think my question about being irascible has been answered.
Only if "irascible" is a synonym for "rational". Your quote is, "do you really think the oceans are inexhaustible or is your insistence on fighting for whalers rights just you being irascible?"

The FACTS are that I never said the ocean was inexhaustible or anything like that or anything that anyone could mistake for that. That's YOUR exaggeration. I have NOT been insistent on fighting for whalers rights to any more extent that I think all peoples' rights should be respected. And I am not being irascible. So, gee, wrong again.
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Maybe you should read that article again..
by EdH / May 27, 2007 5:42 AM PDT

It might answer some of your questions.

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a groaner for the weekend
by jonah jones / May 27, 2007 3:37 AM PDT

if a certain breakfast food was made from sun dried puffin (cut into thin slices and served with cold milk and sugar) and a certain whale was gobbing down all the fresh puffin he could, would he be considered a cereal killer?


*told you it would be bad..:-)

.,

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OOOO... Sitting in your bomb shelter is making you...
by grimgraphix / May 27, 2007 4:54 AM PDT

... a bit punchy I see!


Course you're not close enough to Gaza to worry though are you?

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Gaza is wayyyyyyy down south
by jonah jones / May 27, 2007 12:56 PM PDT

although the wifes family live in that area and are within range of Hamas rockets just lateley Sad


jonah

.,

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Just out of curiosity
by Dragon / May 27, 2007 5:03 PM PDT

is it red meat or white meat?

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