Chetna Prakash

A Mom’s Guide to Geopolitics: How to Get Japan to Stop Whaling

Mom (and realist) Chetna Prakash has a tried and tested solution to democratically solve the whaling issue with Japan.


Japan is at it again. After a short hiatus, they’ve announced the recommencement of their whaling for scientific purposes. Greg Hunt, Australia’s Environment Minister, has strongly condemned the announcement:

We do not accept in any way, shape, or form the concept of killing whales for so-called ‘scientific research.’

I wonder why Japan insists on killing whales, despite a lack of a rational reason to keep at it.

The “scientific research” is a total fib. It is not just Greg Hunt and Greenpeace who say so. Last year, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s scientific whaling program is a way to carry out commercial whaling and is not intended for research. In fact, it was out of sheer embarrassment at the ruling that Japan cancelled its annual whale hunt last year.

One may argue that Japan wants to whale for commercial reasons. But this doesn’t hold true on inspection. The whale meat is obviously not for export, unless countries around the world are secretly organizing raucous “minke whale meat” orgies behind our backs. Possible, but unlikely.

So, the meat must be meant for their internal market. Okay. Except that demand for whale meat in Japan has been steadily dropping. As this article points out, more than 2,300 minke whales’ worth of meat was sitting in freezers in Japan in 2014. In fact, in the past, Japan has even used whale meat for dog food, advertised as “whale jerky for your cute pets.”

Another popular argument quoted is that whaling is a part of Japan’s culture and tradition. But so was hara-kiri (a ceremonial murder-suicide involving voluntary disembowelment). The practice was abolished in 1804.

They have also abandoned the practices of Ubasute (abandoning their elders by leaving them on some remote mountain), Junshi (female ritual suicide after their husband’s death), Kamikaze (Japanese suicide bombers), and besides, given that they are not eating much whale anyway, why are they hellbent on sticking to this particular practice?

The answer is sheer cussedness.

I come across this attitude in my daily life—from my stubborn four-year-old who doesn’t like being told what to do. Every act of negotiation goes through several stages: starting with reasoning, appealing to her better side, glaring, scolding, and taking it to a higher authority; that is, Daddy. Usually, one of these stages holds the answer. But sometimes … sometimes, the more we shame her, the more determined she gets to keep doing it.

Unfortunately, with Japan, I feel we have reached this stage. We have tried reasoning, appealing to their better side, publicly condemning and appealing to a higher authority; that is, International Court of Justice. But with each successive stage, we have only managed to make them more determined to hold on to the practice.

If we continue on this course of action, the only choice left is to cut off all trading relations and declare war.

Greg Hunt might want to chat about that option with Andrew Robb, the Australian Minister of Trade, who is still basking in the glory of his success in getting Japan to finally open-up its lucrative beef market to us.

Or …

Maybe what Australia and America (and the rest of the world) should do, is what we do with our four-year-old when we reach an impasse. We use reverse psychology. We let her know we don’t like her behavior and then we studiously ignore it. In no time, her defiance deflates and she moves on to other things.

Let’s give Japanese whaling the royal ignore. We can let them know we don’t approve of the practice but have nothing more to say to them on the issue. There is no real appetite for whale meat in Japan, but there is a lot of appetite for a fight. Let’s kill it by simply ignoring it.

It works with our daughter every time. Take it from Mommy, it will work with Japan too.


Chetna Prakash

Chetna Prakash is a Melbourne-based freelancer. With her passport showing residencies to Zambia, India, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, UK, and now Australia, she confidently lays claim to the term “global citizen”. Her favorite pastime is to look at artworks and will them to say something to her. You can read her blog at Chatnoir: A Mumbaikar in Melbourne.

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