Japan Admits Tsunami Funds Used to Defend Whaling Fleet

Minke whales loaded aboard the Japanese whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru, in the Southern Ocean.Credit: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Japan has admitted that some of its disaster funds earmarked for earthquake and tsunami relief will instead go to boost security for its so-called “scientific” whale hunts. The Japan Times reports:

It was a comparatively minor entry in the annual, ritualized battle between pro- and anti-whalers. Japan’s whaling fleet pulled out of Shimonoseki port near Nagasaki earlier this week on its way to another controversial four-month Antarctic cull. In the fine print of the 2011 departure, however, was a PR land mine that would detonate and send ripples across the world. Traveling with the whalers was what the Japanese media called “beefed-up security,” a euphemism for a party of coast guard officers who would ride shotgun in the converted harpoon ship Shonan Maru 2, making sure the fleet achieved its target catch. That vessel gained some notoriety last year when it plowed through the Ady Gil ocean-going speedboat, cutting it in half.

Japan Fisheries Agency officials admitted that about  ¥2.28 billion (US$29 million) would be taken from a ¥500 billion (US$6.4 billion) portion of disaster funds earmarked for fisheries-related spending, approved by Japan’s parliament last month.

These monies apparently went to equip the Shonan Maru 2 with unspecified security equipment designed to win the battle against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society‘s Ady Gil. This even though 95 percent of Japanese admit to rarely or never eating whale meat and presumably don’t give a damn whether whaling continues.

Japan’s rationale: That safer hunts will help whaling towns recover from earthquake and tsunami damage.

My question: $29 million for a party of coast guard officers? What else did they send out with the whalers? Torpedoes?

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate