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Eating Whale Meat Is Going Out of Vogue in Japan

Whale meat elicits a "meh" response from young Japanese these days, but global citizens continue to cry foul

Whale sashimi in Japan. Photo: mehan

Whale meat elicits a “meh” responses from young Japanese these days, Discovery News reports. The Japanese only consume a fraction of whale meat compared to the industry’s historical heyday, and whale fans and conservationists welcome this latest news that Japan may finally be moving away from the outdated practice.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare announced the new findings, which are based upon a poll of around 1,200 Japanese citizens surveyed nation-wide. Nearly 90 percent said they had not bought what meat in the last year. On the flip side  only 2 percent responded that they’d bought whale meat more than twice during the same period.

While 27 percent expressed some degree of support for the country’s whaling industry, a surprisingly low 11 percent said their support was “strong”, while 18 percent of respondents expressed opposition. Strong support for whaling was lowest, 2.6 percent, among respondents aged between 15 and 19; it was highest, at 18.6 percent, among those aged between 60 and 69.

Most people, however, were ambiguous, reporting that they were neither for nor against whaling, “a collective shoulder shrug that appears to belie the insistence by the country’s officials that continued whaling is a matter of great national pride and import,” Discovery writes.

When it came to paying taxes, however, people were more opinionated. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said they were against governmental funding of Japan’s so-called “scientific whaling” program, and 85 percent said they opposed taxpayer money being spent on building new whaling ships. Two months ago, the Fisheries Agency of Japan announced that it would seek funds for refurbishing the world’s last remaining whaling factory ship, the Nishin Maru, in order to put it into another 10 years of operation.

While Japan’s population may feel lackluster over the whole issue, many global citizens are passionately anti-whaling. New Zealand just announced that it will join Australia in legally opposing Japan’s Antarctic whaling.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Whale on the Table 
Saving the Whales (And Eating Them Too?) 

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