Understand issues related to Japanese tradition of whaling [Part 1]

捕鯨、クジラanimal protection

As a Japanese, “Whaling issue” is a topic that is often dealt with, so I wanted many people to know about it. I would like to organize a variety of information and think with you from various perspectives.

Since this problem is deep and complicated, it has become a long sentence, so it was divided into [First part] and [second part].

First, in this [Part 1], I would like to consider the history of Japanese whaling.

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  • What is the difference between whaling methods in Japan and overseas?

Japanese whaling history

Netflix:Behind The Cove

Japan has been whaling since the Jomon period. The story of whales often appears in old Japanese books.

Edo period During the change of attendance, samurai brought picture scrolls with whale information and exchanged information with each other.

The picture scroll contains various types of whales.

In 1606, organized whaling started by the “whale group” in Taiji in Wakayama prefecture.

In the Showa era, whale picture books for children aged 7 to 8 appeared.

Netflix:Behind The Cove
Netflix:Behind The Cove

It was written in detail about which part of the whale, what kind of thing it is, and what is used as our daily necessities.

The fact that whale disassembly diagrams are included in even picture books means that whales are so familiar to us that we wanted to teach children about the various uses of whales.

For Japanese, whales are a spiritual existence

Netflix:Behind The Cove

In the area facing the sea in Japan, there are many graves and memorial towers where whales were buried like humans.

Is there another race in other countries that makes Memorial Monument for eating creatures?

The Japanese fully utilized the whale’s body and became part of their diet and life.

Thus, whales have been revered as a spiritual being because they support our lives and diets.

American whaling history


From here, I would like to think about whaling, including in other countries.

In the 1700s, sperm whale fishing (American whaling) began in the United States.

In 1853, Perry traveled with a cannon. We have requested the opening of Japan to make Japan, which is a closed country, a supply base for whaling ships.

The big difference between overseas and Japan is overfishing or sustainable

Netflix:Behind The Cove

Since then, whales have plummeted in the United States due to overfishing for whaling just for oil.

It continued until the times of the Industrial Revolution. It was a very non-persistent method, wasting a lot.

There are documents showing that the United States overfished whales until they were endangered.

I have never seen a sustainable whaling method like Japanese.

Alexander Starbuck「History of the American Whale fishery」

In this way, the content that impresses the Japanese method is written.

Westerns saw whales as “a barrel of oil floating in the sea”.

However, the Japanese view of whales is quite different.

It was a sustainable method and emphasized its spiritual meaning. I wasn’t wasting anything.

Start of whaling restrictions

Netflix:Behind The Cove〜捕鯨問題の謎に迫る

In 1937, the International Agreement for the Regulation of Whaling (IARW) was signed in London with the main purpose of regulating the production of whale oil. However, the number of whales did not recover after World War II.

In 1940, whaling was stopped in the United States.

In 1946, 15 states in Washington, D.C. signed the new International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW).

In 1972, the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed. (Here I am wondering if only marine mammals? Because they are smart? How to protect livestock?)

At the ICRW, if you apply to the depository country of the United States, you can join regardless of whether you are a whaling country or an anti-whaling country.

The problem of whaling should be solved only by the whaling countries that are whaling, and then be solved by the people in the whaling countries. However, for some reason, anti-whaling countries can also join this whaling.

Japan signed the treaty in 1951, but withdrew in 2019.

As of July 2019, there are 88 countries.

I feel uncomfortable that countries that have overfished prohibit whaling in countries that have not overfished.

Japan was crushing the whale industry, and continued to scientifically research foolishly at national cost of 170 billion yen. It is by American speculation.

The Japanese government realized that whaling was not scientifically problematic, and finally realized that the situation would not change. Japan has not claimed this investigation fee or compensation for industrial crushing.

Where is the world that has been studying in a sustainable way without overfishing, making memorial monuments, thanking whales, and doing research?

Why is Japan subject to the whaling issue, not Norway?


The moratorium on commercial whaling passed in the 1980s. By convention, Norway has the right to object, and Norway and Japan have objected. However, with pressure from the United States and the Japanese prime minister did not resist the pressure, he withdrew the challenge. Norway was also under pressure, but the Norwegian Prime Minister did not yield to it. The US, which advocates anti-whaling, says it will not slaughter Norway.

Dr.Lars Walloe  University of Oslo Ecological Teaching

The weakness of Japan’s will at this time may have been a factor that other countries persistently appealed against anti-whaling.

However, Japan is willing to leave ICRW in 2019 and carry out sustainable whaling.

“Do we continue whaling or stop it?” We are no longer lost.


First, I introduced the history of whaling in Japan and the United States in order to understand the background behind the problem of whaling.

Since the whaling problem has these history, it seems that the image of “whaling problem is Japan”.

However, the way of thinking about whales is fundamentally different between Japan and overseas.

Therefore, I don’t think it is necessary to have a negative image of Japanese whaling.

We Japanese are proud of their history.

I think there are other big problems that need to be solved more than sustainable whaling.

The Japanese only whaler occasionally, not every day, and eat and treat them with great care.

However, every second, livestock continue to be killed as if they were worthless.

Whales are intelligent creatures that should be protected, and should pigs and cows be despised?

If you can kill it because it is not intelligent, hamsters, cats, and birds may be the same.

I think there is a problem of racial discrimination here.

The following article will be the continuation [second part].

Understand issues related to Japanese tradition of whaling [Part 2]
This time, I would like to introduce the famous movie “The cove” as a proposal for the dolphin fishing problem and Sea Shepherd, an anti-whaling group. I also wrote the reason why the US interferes with Japan on whaling.

Reference:「Behind The Cove」

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