By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Icelandic news source IceNews reports that the governments of Japan and Iceland are negotiating a trade agreement that also would include exports to Japan of whaling products. The agreement will certainly attract much attention from the environmental groups, and NGOs world-wide.
Japan does however have both cultural and culinary appetites for whale meat and will go to lengths to obtain these products which are a valuable commodity in Japan. A new trade agreement with Iceland could provide a means for sources that would have otherwise become increasingly restricted by International actions
For many years Japan has engaged in de facto commercial whaling under the pretext of engaging in Research Whaling, but in March of 2014 the International Court of Justice ruled against Japan’s pretexts and ordered that “Japan must revoke any extant authorization, permit or license to kill, take or treat whales” in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Japan initially stated it would recognize the ICJ’s judgment but proceeded to launch a “reviewed” research hunt. In response, the International Whaling Commission voted and concluded in September of 2014 that “Japan should abide by an International Court of Justice ruling.” Japan then vowed to commercially hunt whales in the Antarctic.
Iceland is now seeking a free trade agreement with Japan to improve economic growth on the island. Foreign Minister Gunnar Sveinsson stated that the two nations had been trading for decades and that both wished to deepen their trade relationship for commonalities and durable goods.
Over seventy percent of the Iceland’s exports to Japan were fishery commodities while Japan’s offerings consisted of mostly vehicles and machinery.
Foreign Minister Sveinsson indicated that both nations need to respect international law and be transparent to facts that indicate whale stocks are not threatened.
Sveinsson and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida agreed several days ago in a meeting that whaling was “deeply rooted” in both nations’ cultures. The two ministers claimed that the international criticism of their hunting practices were misunderstanding or rooted in politics that others did not understand. They voiced the importance of showing the world community that methods of whale hunts do not harm stocks or the ecosystem.
It remains to be seen what the final trade agreement, if approved, encompasses. But what is clear is that without concrete international sanctions against both nations with regard to whaling restrictions, the will of Japan to obtain a source of their prized commodity will be actively pursued.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.
11 thoughts on “Trade Agreement With Iceland Might Allow Japan To Bypass Effect Of Whaling Sanctions”
Plus there is a the very real problem in Asia where they do not value saving endangered species. It has a thriving black market for the meat and parts of endangered species. If we were to find a single individual of a species thought to be extinct, it would need to be immediately sent to a zoo, or it would be killed by a poacher and sent to the Asian market as an aphrodisiac.
Well, this is disappointing. So many whale species are threatened.
Plus any apex predator, such as Orcas or sperm whales, would be heavily contaminated with mercury. I find the cove slaughters of dolphins abhorrent.
I recall in college watching research video where it showed older practices of tuna fishing. Dolphins follow the tuna, so the fishing vessels would follow the dolphins. They were allowed to kill a certain percentage of dolphins during each catch. The dolphins would get tangled in the net and drown. I recall watching one small calf get hauled up, screaming, with the net, and get crushed by the pulley, while his pod started shrieking below.
From what I’ve read in research papers about whales and dolphins, they are amazingly intelligent. Orcas can be taught to understand many words in sign.
I greatly dislike eating intelligent animals, such as gorillas, and chimps, as well as whales and dolphins. Many feel that way. My father spoke of an international incident that unfolded decades ago when his friend, a fellow officer, was in India, I believe, and they brought in a live monkey with his head sticking out of a box. They were going to scald its head, and then saw off its skull and eat it while it was alive. My dad’s friend pulled his side arm at the dinner table and demanded they release it. The Indians later asked him why he served in the military when he was black. Why help a country that had a history of slavery? He replied that he would rather be an N-word in Georgia in jail than a member of the lowest caste system in India.
If the species were not endangered, then I have to grudgingly acknowledge that other cultures who do not value them, but rather have a tradition of eating them, have the right to harvest them. But I would still hope that international pressure could change their beliefs. If the species are endangered, then they do not.
I don’t think people ought to kill whales for food. It would kind of be like killing gorillas or dogs. But I can’t make a good argument why they are different than cows or chickens or fish. Or why other cultures should have to follow my feelings. But it just seems wrong some way.
Whales and Elephants enormous size are a disadvantage, because it might be more difficult for us to see them as vulnerable, not to mention how much more room they need to survive. If that theory is true, and Ivory and Whale appetites aren’t curbed, they are doomed.
Isaac, I knew you had potential. Good comment, personal connection and reasonable. A gratuitous shot @ religion, but not nasty.
I live in southern Wi. w/ many Norwegians. They are in the lowest percentile in the food culture world.
Of course there are worse things you could eat. Just sayin’
My ex-wife is Norwegian and her and her new husband, my present wife and our kids all visited over dinner. Aside from being a wonderful evening following much anticipation, the strongest position the Norwegians took over the dinner table was their right to hunt, kill, and eat Minke Whales. Apparently Minke Whales are delicious and there are far more than there ever were swimming around. A short google confirmed this. Japan also hunts, kills, and eats many many fewer whales than were hunted when they were hunted almost into extinction for fuel for lamps and other stuff.
So, who is to decide. It would probably be better to err on the side of conservation given the damage done when erring on the side of laissez faire. Most Japanese don’t even eat that much whale meat. In this time of economic uncertainty in Japan their argument might be more a combination of keeping people employed and being tired of being told what to do because they were so disgusting in WW2 which more and more they believe is over stated.
In the end, it is the world community that should have the last word. If anything mankind is better off looking to a higher power that is not religious or those that shout, “We’re Number One.”
It looks like the Japanese are using some of the whale meat for…DOG TREATS! I don’t make this stuff up!
Hey Japan. What are you going to do after you’ve eaten the whales into extinction?
Why are whales protected? Are they endangered, or did Greenpeace just make them the symbol for how evil we humans are? Whale watching is a big business in San Diego. There seems to be a shitload of them now.
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