It’s official! Japanese consumers have finally had their fill of whale. Whale meat once met 50 percent of the protein needs in Japan, but due to “lack of recipe varieties,” consumers are just plain sick of eating “the usual.” An overwhelming demand for whale protein was at one time the driving motivation for large, costly whaling expeditions, subsidized by the Japanese government, but now that people just don’t seem to have a taste for whale anymore (perhaps sickened by the horrible reality of how the whale gets to their plates), could this mean that whaling has become obsolete?
Well, you would think so. Looking at the numbers, the demand for whale meat in Japan is at an all time low, yet expeditions into the Antarctic Ocean to hunt whales continues. Reportedly, over 2,300 (endangered!) minke whales worth of meat are stocked in freezers – untouched by consumers – but whalers still plan on catching another 1,300 whales worth of meat this year.
Seem crazy? That’s because it is! Despite a clear lack of consumer interest in whale meat, the Japanese government put nearly 2.3 billion yen towards their whaling fund in 2011, a time when the country was already struggling to fund reconstruction after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. It has been openly established that whaling is not economically sustainable for Japan– and the rest of the world has banned whaling – however, whaling is allowed to continue “in the name of science.”
Yes, science. In a final grab to justify this inhumane, cruel practice, Japan fronted a whale research program (conveniently, one year after whaling was internationally banned) and all the meat that is not used for “research” is sold for food. According to Akyako Okubo, a marine researcher at Tokai Univeristy, “the goal [of continuing commercial whaling] has become a mere excuse to continue research hunts…The program is used for the vested interests.” Essentially, the alleged research is a bogus excuse to continue hunting and selling whale meat, that no one wants to buy in the first place…what logic.