Japan catches Whales

So Nakayama (Japan, AC 09-11)

Do you know Japanese culture? Manga, games, animation, technology, cars… are probably famous. But do you know about Japanese fishing?  Japanese eat fish very often, for example  sushi. We also “eat” whales.

Our traditional Whale Fishing, or Whaling, started around 8000 years ago. Whales have always been big parts of our lives. Ancient Japanese started catching whales because of their valuable parts. We use all parts of whales;  meat for eating, bones for making houses or harpoons, oil for fuel, skin for clothes and other parts for making fishing lines.

Ancient Japanese did not have many domestic animals because of the many mountains in Japan. These ancients then turned to whales as a form of food and as a resource. Our ancients respected whales very much. There are festivals about whales and temples for them as a form of respect. It seems like Japanese ancients were in great harmony with whales.

Nowadays, whaling is regarded as a problem by some countries around the world. I don’t want to say which opinion is correct. I just want to say each side has every reason to believe the way it does. This problem has so many different points, from the aspect of resources, food, culture, the protection of nature, whale watching and so on.  There are differences between how each country regards whales. Some countries accuse other countries that eat whales. But I think this is the “culture” that the whaling country has. I wouldn’t want countries to accuse others simply because whaling culture is too strange for them to understand. Others say that as whales are smarter than other animals, it is not right to kill them. But according to this theory, it is alright to kill the person who isn’t as smart as us. It doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, countries against whaling do have their reasons.

 I believe respecting animals is the most important part. Whaling countries recommend catching whales when their amount is increasing. But other countries believe that as whale reproduction isn’t at its optimum, there is not enough support for catching them. Too many whales lead to a lack of other fish in the sea. Still, too little numbers of whales brings about the danger of their extinction. It seems that humans’ endless theme is managing a good harmony with nature. We have destroyed many kinds of animals. We must change how we interact with them.

I had never thought about these international problems before coming to Atlantic College, but experiences in AC have changed my mind.  I am proud of my culture, but at the same time I think it is very important to understand the opinions of other countries. We also need to consider our shared earth. I realize this in every moment of AC. I was motivated to write this article after seeing a documentary, “The Cove”, which criticizes Japan’s whaling policy. It was shown to me  by my co-year from Russia. It made me believe that this problem is really difficult to solve. But we should try to solve it step by step. First off,  let’s start talking with our friends in the UWC community.

-United World College Student Magazine-


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