Opinion poll in Japan on whaling

Page - January 26, 2007
In June 2006 Greenpeace Japan commissioned a survey by the Nippon Research Centre where more than 1,000 Japanese people across all ages and both genders were randomly selected to answer a series of questions concerning whaling.

Respondents were asked:

“What do you think Japan should do concerning its whaling practices?”

The majority (44.2 per cent) of the total respondents answered: "Japan should conduct whaling along the Japanese coast but not in the high seas." In addition:

  • 24.8 per cent of respondents said Japan should stop whaling in either
  • 22.5 per cent of respondents said Japan should whale in both seas (both coastal and offshore whaling)
  • 8.4 per cent of respondents voted other.

Adding together the 24.8 per cent respondents who said that Japan should stop whaling altogether and the 44.2 per cent who say Japan should only whale in its own coastal waters, it can be inferred from the poll that: a total of 69 per cent of Japanese people surveyed are opposed to whaling in the high seas.

Awareness towards scientific whaling: questions and answers

"Did you know that Japan conducts ‘scientific whaling’ in the name of ‘ecological research’?"

Over 70 per cent of the total answered "yes, I knew" while 28 per cent answered "no, I didn't know."

"Did you know that the Japanese government subsidises approximately 500 million yen annually for the research whaling programs?"

Over 90 per cent of the total respondents answered "no, I didn't know."

"Did you know that Japan conducts whaling not only in the Japanese territorial waters but in the high seas as well?"

Over 60 per cent of the total respondents answered, "no, I didn't know" while less than 40per cent  answered "yes, I knew."

"Did you know that the Antarctic Sea is one of the internationally designated sanctuaries for whales?"

Close to 80 per cent answered "no, I didn't know", while about 20 per cent answered "yes, I knew."

"Did you know that Japan hunts over 850 whales including 10 of endangered species within the Antarctic Ocean whale sanctuary?"

Over 90 per cent of the total respondents answered they did not know, while only 8 per cent answered they knew.

"Are you familiar with the findings of Japan’s whaling research reports based in the Antarctic Ocean whale sanctuary?"

97 per cent of the total respondents answered "no, I didn't know," while only 3 per cent answered "yes, I knew."

"Did you know that whale meat obtained as a result of the research whaling is sold in Japan?"

About 60per cent of the total respondents answered "yes, I knew" while about 40per cent  answered "no, I didn't know."

"Whale meat obtained from scientific whaling is overstocked in Japan. What do you think of this?"

Among the total respondents, 41per cent said the number of whales captured should be reduced in order to avoid overstocking, while 36per cent  said whale meat should be widely marketed and sold inexpensively.

For those who selected "whale meat should be widely marketed and sold inexpensively", they were asked what the main motivation was for their responses. 41per cent of the total respondents said "because whale population is increasing," 33per cent said "because I want to eat whale meat," and 21per cent  said "because it's a waste of resources."

"The Japanese government hunts whales for scientific purposes, while the International Whaling Commission (IWC), of which Japan is a member, passed a resolution urging to “limit scientific research to non-lethal methods only. Did you know about this?"

Among the total respondents, 46 per cent said they knew while 54 per cent  said they did not know.

The ICR Yahoo Poll

In response, in November 2006 Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research released a Yahoo Japan poll that showed 90 per cent of respondents supported a return to commercial whaling.

However, the Yahoo poll is not statistically valid - the vote could hardly be called random, as it solicited the opinions of readers who typically hold views further to the right than the rest of the population, and who felt strongly enough to answer a crude, short questionnaire.

There is also a discrepancy in the wording of the Japanese version and the English version of the ICR press release. The Japanese version states, "Whale meat is one of meals that the Japanese are familiar with," while the English version states, "Whale meat is a popular meal choice", designed to give an impression to non-Japanese people that whale meat is "popular" among the Japanese.

Full (PDF) report on the Greenpeace Japan website

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