Friday, November 30, 2007

A Whaling We Will Go!

What peculiar intransigence demonstrated by Japan in the face of the reality of a declining whale population and the outraged reaction of world opinion at her stance on embarking on a full-scale whaling adventure. Truly it is odd. Japan doesn't enjoy being singled out for criticism. The national psyche is one of modesty and unimpeachable law abidance. She is sensitive to bringing attention to herself, particularly attention of censure.

Yet in the matter of whaling and her right, as a maritime nation - a series of three islands surrounded by water, whose population has traditionally fed itself on the bounty of the seas - she remains adamant that she has the right to pursue activities seen as being in the best interests of the nation.

Maritime creatures of the deep have always been Japan's supermarket. Her people, fastidious and adventuresome food addicts, applaud her determination to defy global censure.

After all, this expedition has been launched in the interests of science. It is not billed as an expedition meant to harvest the glory of the seas for public consumption within that island nation. Japan has embarked on a pursuit whose scientific discoveries will be of supreme benefit to the entire global scientific community.

Scooping up marine life the better to know it. To examine its presence from the most minute organisms to the elephants of the sea. As opaque an argument as any conceivable.

Their quota on this scientific expedition no fewer than 850 whales, including 50 humpbacks, a protected and endangered species. Japanese scientists, however, contend in their great wisdom that the humpback has recovered in sufficient quantities that their hunt will pose no difficulties to their further recovery.

They are an honourable people, if, perhaps, somewhat misguided in this very particular instance. The cover and bluster has turned a shade of purple, however, with the news that the government of Japan has initiated a campaign to encourage its people to expand their menus to include greater portions of whale meat.

Toward which end street stalls have now begun serving up box lunches featuring whale meat. To popularize the new menu and just incidentally assist the government in its mission to launch a return of full-scale commercial sweeping of the bottom of the sea.

Jaded appetites? Japanese are never averse to dining on blowfish despite their acute reputation for ill preparation resulting in unfortunate poisoning events with nasty consequences.

The Japanese palate is more than adequately tickled by traditional Japanese fare. And, in the great streets of Tokyo and beyond there is no lack of gustatory opportunities in the great numbers of restaurants and fine dining establishments representing the cuisine of every country of the world.

Sometimes people - and their politicians - just dig in their heels, unwilling to accommodate themselves to the dictates of others, even when to do so has the potential to be injurious to themselves in the long run. Pity.

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