I woke up this morning to reports that the Fisheries Agency of Japan, the body in charge of our whaling industry is seeking government funds to repair and re-fit the Nisshin Maru, the main factory processing vessel of the whaling fleet and make it more energy efficient. My country’s pointless Antarctic programme cannot take place without the Nisshin Maru.
Japan’s commercial whaling- under the guise of “science”- serves no purpose. Thousands of tons of whale meat still sit in freezers, and no major piece of research has been produced despite the decades of needless slaughter of thousands of whales. We’ve seen tax money diverted into the whaling industry without public knowledge. It is shameful and outrageous that tax revenues are not contributing to the needed Fukushima recovery efforts.
The people of Japan are fed up with government waste, corruption and their leaders ignoring them when they call for change. We are witnessing a unique moment in history here. After ignoring the majority of public opinion and pursuing reactor restarts, the government was surprised to find hundreds of thousands of people protesting outside the Prime Minister’s office each week. Dissent is on the rise, as seen again this week with the domestic media picking up on the scandal of funds being diverted from the reconstruction to the dying whaling industry. We are advancing- the people of Japan now know that their money is supporting whaling and that the government is keen to continue hiding the truth about whaling subsidies.
This is a unique moment for Japan to back away from the international disgrace its whaling programme causes without losing face. Huge sums of money are needed to upgrade the Nisshin Maru and bail out the industry from massive debt. We are repeating our demand that the government end subsidies for whaling. We simply do not have the money and the loss making whaling industry does not have the demand to merit even one more yen.
We are working with our coalition partners here to end these subsidies. Although the whalers tell the world that their operations are non commercial and scientific they are asking for money from the “Profitable Fisheries Support Project” which provides government subsidies to fisheries businesses that hope to increase profit by streamlining their operations. And hidden behind the repair subsidy is another subsidy. The “Profitable Fisheries Support Project” can also pay 50% to 90% of a successful applicant’s debt for a maximum of 3 years. Since the collapsing market for whale meat has seen the whalers lose 1.2 billion yen from 2004 to 2009, and losses continue, they will be looking forward to government handouts. And the government may once again succumb.
I’m no expert on ships but given that it takes over 2.5 tons of fuel oil to produce a ton of whale meat from the Antarctic I can see an easy way to make huge fuel efficiency savings. Stop going to the Antarctic.
Junichi Sato is the Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan