View Full Version : dolphin slaughter in Taiji/ strengthening nationalism

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Lorien Lowe
02-03-2014, 01:06 AM
Soooo everyone knows that there's this thing in Japan with the slaughter of dolphins that, from a western viewpoint, is pretty horrific. There's also the ongoing whaling. I won't go into the moral aspects of that; I disapprove, morally, on a very profound level, but that's not my point here.

A possibly as-disturbing point is that, unlike baleen whales, toothed whales and dolphins feed at the top of the food chain; these animals are ***loaded*** with mercury and other heavy metals, and their flesh is sold for human consumption. It is literally poison. Despite that, the slaughter and consumption is justified as 'historical tradition.' It seems like an obstinate denial of reality on a par with what we see in some branches of American politics, and seems to jibe in perfect synchrony with some of the current Japanese political nationalism that makes politicians say that 'comfort women' (i.e. rape victims in Nanking) were necessary for soldiers away from home, and saber-rattling with China over a few uninhabited rocks in the sea between the two countries.

From the perspective of an outsider who gets my news from the mainstream press, it's disturbing to see the apparent strengthening of this attitude. Anyone have other perspectives or comments?

Michael Douglas
02-03-2014, 12:22 PM
Can you explain what you mean by "this attitude" in comparison with other nations?

Cliff Judge
02-03-2014, 01:13 PM
'comfort women' (i.e. rape victims in Nanking)

This sentence fragment tells me that you probably should do a lot more reading on the history and politics of Asia before broaching this topic.

Lorien Lowe
02-03-2014, 07:55 PM
@ Michael Douglas: I mean a sense of national superiority/exceptionalism in the Japanese right wing that seems to mirror, pretty closely, the bellicose 'American exceptionalism' that we see in the American right wing.

@ Cliff Judge: my apologies if my terminology or wording is incorrect; what I"m talking about is based on things like this:
and this:

There are always drives in the US (especially, it seems, in Florida and Texas) to strip things like slavery and the genocide of Native Americans from our textbooks, too, for the goal of advancing 'national pride and self-worth' in school children. America and Japan both have plenty of things to be legitimately proud of, but pretending that we as a nation don't have things to be ashamed of only increases the risk of such behavior being repeated on a national level.


Cliff Judge
02-04-2014, 08:59 AM
Man you really seem like you have a lot on your mind!

- Dolphin kills
- mercury and other heavy metals in the food supply
- whaling
- rape of Nanjing
- Chinese comfort women
- island disputes
- state visits to Yasukuni Jinja

There is a lot of stuff you are forgetting to let bother you!

- the continued hardship endured by victims of the quake - tsunami - nuclear disaster
- oh noes, the radiation is going everywhere and killing the planet
- free trade agreement
- Japanese government printing too much money
- Prominent city leaders believe that women are human-shaped bags of meat surrounding wombs
- Why does 21st century anime suck so bad?
- Where the hell did these people get their concept of pizza?

Let me put some ideas out here for you.

First, you are a Westerner and you believe that the individual has a responsibility to form an opinion on current events, particularly politics. The Japanese don't quite get that, I don't think. This is not to say that you can't find different opinions on things - for instance, plenty of Japanese folks are appalled by the dolphin kills. My wife tells me her high school history teacher was fired for talking about Nanjing off the official course materials (in the late 80s). But the way that people share their ideas and act on them is different. Frustrating to us Westerners. Seems like they'll all complain about something for years over there without any change. The way they form political will is different.

Second, they have a pretty interesting political system over there, compared to how we do things in the USA. They are strict about political campaigns, and have a parliamentary system, and IMO, they get more real choice during elections. But nobody votes!

Third, Japan is not tops in Asia. China's economy has surpassed theirs in size, South Korea is formidable, and there is a paranoid, nuclear-capable nation full of meth addicts in the neighborhood too! Consider the possibility that Japan is not manufacturing the geopolitical pressure that is leading them to consider nationalism; certainly they are not to the extent that America did at the turn of the 21st century.

Demetrio Cereijo
02-04-2014, 03:09 PM
Now there is no commies in Russia and China, Japan is the bad guy again.

Lorien Lowe
02-06-2014, 01:46 AM
Guys, I'm **not** saying that Japan is "the bad guy" or even "a bad guy." For all I know, this uptick in media articles about Japanese nationalism is simply the result of propagandistic journalism looking to focus on one aspect of Japanese culture and/or following twitter-verse trends. That's why I wrote an OP looking for other perspectives and comments.

I'm well aware that there are other issues facing Japan, and that Japan isn't the heaviest player in the region; my question is whether or not nationalism, as displayed by Abe et. all, is even a real issue. The idea that it might be probably bothers me mostly because I see this right wing denial-of-reality/blind nationalism as a 'real' (i.e., influencing decisions on the ground, on the local level as well as the national one) issue in American politics.

02-14-2014, 01:12 PM
Whale's not bad, donkey meat is ok too. Dog has a strange after taste.

02-22-2014, 04:09 AM
Hello Lorien, I am in Australia and we get a number of articles on the news about Japan and Norway whaling in the ocean. Greenpeace often call for the Australian government vessels into international waters to monitor the Japanese whaling fleet, yet our current government has no interest in doing so.

I know that in some area of Canada they have seal clubbing that occurs as a native tradition and I gather that is why it is not stopped and I figured that the attitude to whaling is probably that it has always been done and they do not want to change because of that reason.

I guess there is no way that you can ever actually stop a whaling fleet from doing that, only the Japanese themselves could do that by rejecting it? Boycotting does not seem to work, which leads me back to change having to come from within.

What I do wonder is if some of the native religions in Japan have animal sacrifice as a part of their ritual? If that is the case then it would also make it very hard to change as people see it as normal whereas people from a Christian background tend to have a view that it is not necessary to please God by doing that. Perhaps that is a factor, I really am not all that sure!

02-22-2014, 05:11 AM
The Newfoundland seal clubbing was actually not a native thing but eventually faded away because there was no more demand for seal fur in the fashion industry. Protests about the hunt itself just caused a retrenchment because for some reason people don't take kindly to outsiders telling them how terrible they are.

Same with the Japanese and whale hunting. I fully understand the reactionary response of the people of Taiji which by the way is a great place to visit.

02-22-2014, 09:20 PM
I sometimes think every culture ought to be given one topic on which they are not required to be reasonable. For the French, wine; for the Germans, beer; for the Swiss, chocolate. If the Japanese want it to be cetaceans, they'd have to give up letting it be rice; my bet is they'd give up cetaceans.

The seal-clubbing thing is in a totally different domain. If you eat meat or wear leather, shut up about the seals.

Lorien Lowe
02-25-2014, 02:07 AM
I honestly wouldn't have too much of a personal problem if there were a dozen or so whales killed each year, strictly for food and other resources; the Japanese have as much a right to claim 'historical' whaling as the Inuit or the Scandinavians. I personally dislike the industrialized killing based on bogus "science," and then the sort of selling-meat-to-the-powerful-and-wealthy thing. But whales eat lower on the food chain than dolphins do, so their meat isn't as dangerous for human consumption.

I dislike, as Hugh implied, the unreasonableness of the excuses being made: that the whale kill is 'scientific,' that the dolphin kill is 'traditional.' I guess I'd feel a tiny bit better about either if the heads of state would admit that both are problematic for various reasons; even if very little changed, I'd feel like they were at least considering multiple aspects of the issues: for example, a warning against pregnant women consuming the dolphin meat, and a more humane way of slaughter (in line with the human slaughter rules that Japan already has for other species, for example).

What would it be for Americans? Bacon? or cheese, or bread. Or corn. In California it might be salsa picante.

02-25-2014, 06:53 AM
On this day of all days, don't get me started on the idiocy of sanctifying practices on the basis that they are "traditional". Come up with another argument in support of them, please.

02-25-2014, 07:18 AM
On this day of all days, don't get me started on the idiocy of sanctifying practices on the basis that they are "traditional". Come up with another argument in support of them, please.
OK I'll bite - why today.

02-25-2014, 09:50 AM
OK I'll bite - why today.


02-25-2014, 10:47 AM
Ah - I thought that was what you are talking about. The reactionism is coming from somewhere and one should really look what's behind it. True or not - some group or other feels they are under threat.

02-25-2014, 11:11 AM
Well, sure, it comes from somewhere, but I don't think the desire to oppress others always comes from feeling threatened. And if it does, what of it? When oppression occurs, the first priority isn't to salve the neuroses of the oppressor. Understand what you're dealing with, sure, but treat bad actors as what they are.

02-25-2014, 11:29 AM
Well, sure, it comes from somewhere, but I don't think the desire to oppress others always comes from feeling threatened. And if it does, what of it? When oppression occurs, the first priority isn't to salve the neuroses of the oppressor. Understand what you're dealing with, sure, but treat bad actors as what they are.

Well you can not ignore something and hope it will go away - because it probably wont very soon - but you can make something worse. I wish I had an answer to all life's injustices but I just make some observations on human nature.

Krystal Locke
02-26-2014, 02:20 PM

I know you're a bit cranky with me lately, but the following link made me laugh. Might make you laugh too.


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