Japan’s crusade to resume the hunt.

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Japan has resorted to “skullduggery” in its quest to get the international ban on commercial whaling overturned, said New Zealand’s Dominion Post in an editorial. It bought the votes of several African and Caribbean nations, offering generous aid packages in return for those countries’ support at the International Whaling Commission. Gambia and Togo, for example, were long unable to vote on the commission because they had not paid their back dues. Yet just before a key vote last week, they managed to find the thousands of dollars they owed. The representative from Togo actually turned up “with a bag full of U.S. bills.” The result was a 33–32 vote to declare the ban on whaling unnecessary. While that vote alone won’t legalize the hunt immediately—a three-fourths majority is required—it does swing the momentum in favor of the whalers. Yet it’s hard to see why Japan is so adamant that it be able to slaughter whales. It can’t be a need for food: Few Japanese even like whale meat.

Maybe they just “hate whales,” said Rod Liddle in the London Times. Look at the things the Japanese say on their whaling industry’s Web site: They claim that whales are stupid, boring creatures, no more complex in behavior than “a herd of cows or deer.” Not only that, the animals are said to be greedy, gobbling up three times the amount of fish that humans eat, while millions of people around the world starve. “Reading through the whalist diatribe, one half expects warnings about a sinister world conspiracy of whales and Freemasons, a sort of The Protocols of Moby Dick.” No wonder the Japanese like to slaughter the animals using a harpoon laden with explosives—they apparently see whales as giant pests that deserve to die.

Masako Fukui

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