For years, the Japanese government, the Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo, and environmental activists have engaged in a bitter battle over the future of Japan's whaling industry. Proponents of the practice hope to control the debate by limiting the argument to the preservation of Japan's "whaling traditions and whale-eating culture" through "sustainable use," but, as Jun Morikawa makes clear, these terms obscure the true complexity of the issue.
Offering a broader and more objective analytical framework, Morikawa investigates the political actors and forces that create, control, and implement Japan's policy and continue to shape debate. Pro-whalers, Morikawa finds, have largely prevailed by spinning political myths, manipulating public opinion, and exploitating antiwhaling activities to their own advantage. Their efforts have created a domestic consensus that allows Tokyo's whaling policies to continue relatively unchallenged despite stockpiles of whale meat that remain unsold in Japanese warehouses.
Focusing on the gap between political fiction and environmental reality, Morikawa highlights rarely discussed aspects of the decision-making process in relation to this issue and examines how diplomacy and aid have helped Japan secure support for its whaling policies internationally. He also evaluates the long-term future of whaling, especially in light of growing environmental consciousness.