Prime Minister Abe Calls Whaling a Japanese Cultural Right

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to resume his nation's commercial whaling ventures in the Antarctic seas despite the International Court of Justice's ruling in March forbidding it.

What's the Latest?


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to resume his nation's commercial whaling ventures in the Antarctic seas despite the International Court of Justice's ruling in March that Japan's whaling program did not qualify as "scientific research." When asked about the the controversial nature of whaling, Abe played the culture card:

"[It's] regrettable that this part of Japanese culture is not understood."

Prime Minister Abe's comments were supplemented by claims by Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who calls international anti-whaling sentiments "...a cultural attack, a kind of prejudice against Japanese culture."

What's the Big Idea?

The jury is still out on whether whaling is to the Japanese as bullfighting, another controversial cultural practice, is to the Spanish. But one thing that isn't up for debate is whether the Japanese whaling program is actually "scientific research" (hint: it isn't). "Scientific research" is a loophole that allowed Japan to kill approximately 3,600 Antarctic Minke whales over a nine year span until the ICJ's ruling. Although commercial whaling still occurs in countries such as Iceland and Norway, Japan signed an international moratorium on the practice in 1986 while those two others did not. "Scientific research" is a thin veil under which Japanese commercial interests attempt to navigate around international law to support an illegal whale-meat industry.

But Abe and Hayashi's comments do set the table for a rather intriguing debate around cultural rights. I'm drawn back to the example of bullfighting (itself in decline) and wonder where the delineation point is between a cultural tradition and the outside world's disgust for said tradition. Does this sort of thinking inevitably lead civilization to push for homogenization?

What do you think?

Read more at Al-Jazeera and BBC

Photo credit: 360b / Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

Videos
  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.