News

    Japan Confronts Whale Meat Glut

    Many Japanese consider whale meat a delicacy and now a new generation is getting a taste of what was once a significant source of nutrition for the country. Whale is increasingly returning to Japanese school lunch menus as the country tries to figure out what to do with an unprecedented glut of the meat.

    The Japanese government says the country has an unprecedented surplus of whale meat - thousands of tons of it - mainly due to an expanded catch of whales in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Tomohiko Taniguchi says a new government campaign to get the public to eat more whale meat is intended to re-balance the market.

    "Whether or not there is an increased amount of inventory is actually a matter of demand and supply in the marketplace," he said. "There has been a decreased appetite for the whale meat, so the supply and balance situation is getting changed."

    Whale was a significant source of protein for the Japanese before and immediately after the Second World War.

    But with an increasing number of Japanese restaurant patrons and supermarket shoppers now turning up their noses at whale, more of the meat is being sent to schools. In January, 1,600 kilograms ended up at 100 elementary and junior high schools - double the amount for 2005.

    Greenpeace Japan activist Mizuki Takana says the school children, in accordance with Japanese custom, will have no option but to clear their plates.

    "I never eat the whale meat, so I do not know the taste," she said. "But some people say the taste is not good. So they [the schools] try to cook [whale meat] really nicely. So it is kind of difficult to distinguish - this is the whale meat, this is the pork, this is the beef. If the taste is good, kids, anyway, love it."

    Among the items on the school menus: whale meatballs, whale burgers and whale spaghetti.

    The oversupply is prompting questions at home and abroad about whether Japan should reduce or end its whaling research program, long opposed by environmentalists and many other countries.

    Despite a 1987 international moratorium on whale hunting, Japan has continued to hunt the mammals, arguing that to research the habits and diets of whales, it is necessary to kill them.

    Japan this year intends to double its catch to more than 1,000 minke whales, as well as a few dozen fin whales, humpbacks and other species.

    Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Taniguchi says the whaling program is misunderstood overseas.

    "This gives a false impression as if Japan is doing this in order to sell the meat in order for the nation to eat [the whale meat]," he said. "That is absolutely incorrect."

    Taniguchi says the government only funds 10 percent of the $49 million annual budget for whaling research, thus the remainder has to come from sale of the meat.

    Greenpeace is shifting its battle against Japanese whaling from the ocean to supermarket shelves, hoping to get consumers in Japan and around the world to boycott companies, including some multi-national corporations that it says directly or indirectly finance whaling.

    Greenpeace International oceans activist Frode Pleym says the Japanese are apathetic about the issue because they do not know the details.

    "You have a small number of people, namely within the Japanese fisheries industry, dependent on this policy going on," he said. "And I think when Japanese people increasingly learn about that they will not only continue to not eat whale meat, but they will, eventually, oppose it politically."

    But the message the public is currently receiving from the government's "Delicious Whales" campaign is that

    Japan's hunting of the animals does not endanger their survival and that eating whales is part of their national heritage.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora