The key to ending whaling

Changing perceptions in Japan

Feature story - 19 February, 2007
Jun Hoshikawa, a Japanese writer and translator, has published over 60 books. He took up the post as Executive Director for Greenpeace Japan 14 months ago. Here he explains what he believes is the key to ending whaling: changing the perceptions of the people of Japan.

Greenpeace Japan protest outside the second day of the "International Whaling Comission Normalization Meeting".

"When I arrived at Greenpeace Japan a little over one year ago, my take on stopping the Japanese government's whaling program was  that it is  a lost cause and impossible to argue against - despite the fact I had been opposed to whaling since the issue was raised in the early 1970s.

"Japanese media and the public have been force fed the government's line"

Why? Because the Japanese media and public have been force fed the government's line on high seas whaling for decades, with a complete absence of  debate between  opposing views. For years, our government has been telling us that whaling is an essential part of Japanese culture and diet, and those who oppose whaling are anti-Japanese.  In doing so, the government has managed to spin this issue into one of nationalism, equating the "anti-whaling" movement as "anti-Japanese," which is simply not true.

That's why Greenpeace Japan, with the full support of the worldwide Greenpeace community, has launched a new campaign in Japan to spark the debate on whaling in our country, and to show Japanese that anti-whaling activists actually love Japan, but not its high seas whaling program.   To that end, we've launched "Whale Love Wagon,": a take off of a popular Japanese television show, where a  Spanish man and a Japanese woman  travel around Japan asking questions and talking  with people about whaling. Greenpeace has taken a 'hands-off' approach to the actual development of the events in each episode to insure that the travelers explore the issue on their own.

Whale Love WagonEpisode 1

"Equating the anti-whaling movement as anti-Japanese is simply not true"

And it's working - for the first time ever there is public debate about whaling in Japan, and it's completely independent of our  government's spin.

Greenpeace Japan is committed to catalyzing an honest, transparent and completely unedited debate about Japanese whaling, even if the debate enters territory that some may find uncomfortable or disturbing A case in point is talking with people who still eat whale meat, albeit very rarely.  The point is to expose the Japanese government's spin that whale meat is an essential part of Japanese diet and culture. The truth is that whale meat is no longer a staple in the Japanese diet, and indeed, 95 percent of Japanese have never or rarely even eat it. 

At the same time, Greenpeace is working in over forty countries around the world to send the message, "We love Japan, but not high seas whaling" to the Japanese public. Just last week, valentines messages of love, chocolate and flowers were sent from Greenpeace supporters in 28 countries to Japan.

"Once Japanese whaling is exposed for what it is...the Japanese public will put an end to it"

The key to ending Japanese whaling lies in the hearts and minds of the Japanese people.  That's why Greenpeace is running a strategic campaign in Japan so that the Japanese public can have a transparent, honest and uncensored debate on whaling.  Once Japanese whaling is exposed for what it is - a practice that only a handful of bureaucrats, politicians and spokespeople profit from - the Japanese public will put an end to it, once and for all."

Jun Hoshikawa

Executive Director

Greenpeace Japan

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