Other nations, including Iceland and Norway, have commercial whaling operations. See the link for details.
A certain number of whales, from species which are not considered “Endangered” are permitted, by international consensus, to be legally killed in the name of “research”. When asked by news agencies around the world, as to WHY the whale meat then appears in Japanese fish markets, the Japanese claim that it would be a tragic waste for the whale meat to simply be discarded after the “research” has been done. So, the whale meat is sold.
As was already pointed out, there are whaling operations in other countries, yet Japan is responsible for a large portion of the whales killed every year. One reason for this may be the country’s history. Whaling is a Japanese tradition and any attempts to stop it are considered a threat to the country’s culture. Matayuki Komatsu, of Japan’s Fisheries Agency, has said that “no one has the right to criticize the food culture of another people.”
Well, the short answer is that they tend not to play ball with the International Whaling Commission, which many countries are a party to. This has been a hot topic over the years, but the Japanese tend to claim that they do so for research. Expectedly, many environmentalists to not buy this stance.
While other countries do indeed participate in commercial whaling – notably Norway and Iceland – Japan continues to receive the full media glare for its poaching activities for a few reasons.
1) Firstly, their whaling numbers are the highest of any country that engages in organized whale hunting.
2) The Japanese hunt whales in international waters, particularly in Antarctic seas that are recognized internationally as whale sanctuaries. Norway and Iceland, on the other hand, limit their operations to their own coastal seas, over which they retain jurisdiction. There, their governments are the sole authority for regulating whaling. Thus, the international community is more drawn to Japan’s blatant violations of international whaling conventions.
3) While countries like Norway are unabashed about their controversial commercial whaling campaigns, Japan continues to hunt whales under the auspices of “scientific research”. While the Japanese whaling industry is currently under intense scrutiny for corruption and embezzlement, the government continues to deny any large-scale illegal poaching operations, antagonizing environmentalists and lobbyists alike.
4) The widely acclaimed show, “Whale Wars,” which aired on Animal Planet, drew considerable public attention to the particular situation in Japan.
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