Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Perfect Face-Saver

Is the Japanese government really considering abandoning this year's whale hunt in the Antarctic?
The Asahi newspaper is reporting the upcoming round of research whaling could be suspended because of the poor condition of the Nasty Nippon fleet's ageing factory ship. It says the fisheries agency wants to undertake large-scale repairs to the Nisshin Maru.
The process could take months and may mean the annual whaling hunt in the Southern Ocean (which usually begins in late November or December) could be called off for this season! If it is, it'll be the first time in 25 years the Japanese have not set sail for an annual round of so-called "research" whaling. Not surprisingly the Japanese fisheries agency however will not confirm the media report. The office of the Australian Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke is seeking further information on the Japanese newspaper report.
Japan is a country facing an earthquake/tsunami repair bill of hundreds of billions of dollars, and on top of that there's the clean up/compensation bill from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. That's hundreds of billions more. Japan has the greatest public debt in the industrialised world, so there's not a lot of cash to splash about. While this whaling programme is supposed to be for scientific research, the Fisheries Agency is allowed to sell the meat even though very few Japanese actually eat it. There are stockpiles of whale meat sitting in freezers around the country.
This is an industry that's not making any money, it relies for its very survival on government subsidies and the growing mood in Japan is that the money should be going on the people who need it - people in the tsunami and nuclear zones - not on programmes Japan doesn't need.
With mounting pressure on the home front, and Sea Shepherd's extra vessels promising a major battle in Antarctica this southern summer, the required repairs to Nisshin Maru may be a blessing in disguise. The Japanese whaling industry is dead - it just won't admit it yet - and it has been looking for a way out for several years now.
Well, this is the perfect face-saver. Will they take it?

PS: Oct.01, 2012 - Evidently not...

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