Japanese whalers kill whales for dog food


This 2017 video says about itself:

Illegal Japanese whaling filmed by the Australian Government in Antarctica

This is the footage that the Australian Government didn’t want you to see. Since 2012, Sea Shepherd has been a part of a joint fight to get the Australian Government to release rare whaling footage obtained on a 2008 Australian Customs mission to the Antarctic.

Here is the footage that the Australian Government filmed with tax payers’ money, of the Japanese whaling fleet illegally whaling in Antarctica, in Australian waters. The footage was filmed as part of gathering evidence for the International Court of Justice, which found Japan’s whaling to be illegal.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Friday, January 11, 2019

Japan is still killing whales that they don’t even eat

This summer the Japanese will start killing whales again. PETER FROST wonders why

ON Boxing Day 2018 Japan announced that it is leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial, rather than so-called scientific hunts for the animals for the first time in 30 years.

At the same time it said it would no longer go to the Antarctic for its much-criticised annual killings.

Chief Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his country would resume commercial whaling in July 2019 “in line with Japan’s basic policy of promoting sustainable use of aquatic living resources based on scientific evidence.”

He added that Japan is disappointed that the IWC — which he claims is dominated by conservationists — focuses on the protection of whale stocks even though the commission has a mandate for both whale conservation and the development of the whaling industry.

“Regrettably, we have reached a decision that it is impossible in the IWC to seek the coexistence of states with different views,” he said at a news conference.

Japan faced much criticism earlier last year when its so-called scientific research whaling fleet slaughtered 122 pregnant whales.

In 2014, the international court of justice ruled against the annual Japanese slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean, after concluding that the hunts were not, as Japanese officials had claimed, conducted for scientific research but for the commercial whale meat market.

Japan resumed whaling in the Southern Ocean in 2016 under a programme that reduced its kill by about two-thirds.

Australia and New Zealand, as well as several anti-whaling campaigning groups, have done what they can to stop the Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean and they seem to have been successful – the Japanese now say that whaling this summer will only be in Japanese waters.

However the Japanese whaling fleet will again flaunt international opinion and start hunting whales later this year.

Japan will also continue to campaign to end the international ban on commercial whaling, claiming that populations of some whale species have recovered sufficiently to allow the resumption of what Japan claims is sustainable hunting.

Japan sent no fewer than 70 delegates to last autumn’s IWC meeting in Brazil. They argued that the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling was intended to be a temporary measure, and accused the IWC of abandoning its original purpose — managing the sustainable use of global whale stocks.

The Japanese said: “Japan proposes to establish a committee dedicated to sustainable whaling (including commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence whaling).”

The Japanese proposals would have allowed IWC’s members to decide on quotas with a simple majority rather than the current two-thirds majority from 2020 onwards. This would have made it easier for Japan to buy enough votes to end the ban on commercial whaling.

Votes in favour of whaling come from those nations still involved in the grisly business. Only Norway and Iceland still have commercial whaling fleets and they both support Japan.

In addition a number of small island communities also carry out limited aboriginal whale hunting as part of what are usually claimed to be ancient cultural traditions.

Japan, however, has often bought additional votes supporting whaling from countries by offering advantageous trading terms and other close relationships.

Does Japan need to eat whale meat? No. In fact very little whale meat is actually consumed by Japanese people today.

Much is made into expensive edible dog treats for the small lap-dogs that are so fashionable among affluent Japanese.

When it comes to human consumption a recent poll commissioned by Greenpeace and conducted by the independent Nippon Research Centre found that 95 per cent of Japanese people very rarely or never eat whale meat.

Given how Japan has leant over backwards to justify its whaling, and how much international criticism its getting, you might conclude whale meat is a hugely important part of the Japanese diet.

In fact the amount of uneaten frozen whale meat stockpiled in Japan doubled to 4,600 tons in the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, the last dates for which figures have been published.

It isn’t as if there is a long Japanese tradition of eating whale meat going back centuries. In fact the widespread eating of whale was only introduced directly after World War II by the US General Douglas MacArthur, who effectively ruled Japan during the post-war allied occupation.

World War II shattered Japan’s economy, food was scarce and meat especially so. MacArthur and his occupying administrators decided Japan could and should get much of their protein from sea mammal meat.

In 1946, MacArthur converted two US military tankers to become giant industrial whaling factory ships. A generation of Japanese children grew up eating whale meat as part of their school dinners.

Today for most Japanese, whale meat is little more than a novel culinary curiosity. For those few Japanese old enough to remember eating whale in immediate post-war school dinners it provides an occasional nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Japan’s former top international whaling negotiator Komatsu Masayuki for instance, told the world’s press he had never tried whale meat before he took on the whaling propagandist’s job.

This was the top man putting Japan’s argument for continuing to kill and eat whales saying he had never even tasted whale meat.

Why is it then that Japan is prepared to make itself such a pariah in world opinion? One popular view, and it is certainly the one I subscribe to, is that it is Japanese pride that will not accept other countries defining just what the Japanese nation can and cannot do.

Pride and humiliation are two sides of the way that Japanese people see their position in society and their nation’s place in the world.

If the world in general thinks it can tell the Japanese to stop killing whales, then that might be all the argument the Japanese need to keep up the bloody slaughter.

Some better whale news

Back in last September I wrote about a beluga whale that was spotted in the River Thames.

According to experts the 11-foot (3.5m) whale is still alive and well, and has been spotted regularly almost every week off the Kent coast in the Thames estuary.

Birds, flowers in Japanese art, exhibition


This October 2018 video from Leiden in the Netherlands says about itself (translated):

Japan Museum SieboldHuis from 7 December 2018 to 3 March 2019 shows the exhibition ‘Kachō-ga. The poetry of Japanese nature’.

For the first time in the Netherlands there is an exhibition about kachō-ga, one of the most important genres in Japanese graphic art and painting. Special loans and masterpieces from the Netherlands and abroad such as woodcuts, folding screens, scroll paintings and photographs make this retrospective a must see for lovers of Japanese art.

I went to see that exhibition on 23 December 2018.

This 8 December 2018 video shows more extensive images of the exhibition.

The SieboldHuis museum writes about it (translated):

The Japanese word kachō-ga literally means ‘images of flowers and birds’.

Though sometimes other animals were depicted as well.

Colourful flowers and birds get all the attention in this exhibition which takes the visitor along the creation and development of this decorative genre. Artists can pre-eminently show their craftsmanship and poetic view of Japanese nature in this genre. The exhibition includes detailed, staged, lifelike, but also stylistic works by famous Japanese artists such as Hiroshige, Hokusai, Seitei, Koson and Hasui. In this exhibition, colourful plants and animals decorate folding screens, scroll paintings, albums, illustrated books, prints in the form of fans and graphic art from the late 18th to the 20th century. The photos by the Japanese top photographer Yoshinori Mizutani give a contemporary look at kachō-ga.

Mizutani’s photos at the exhibition depicted grey starlings and ring-necked parakeets. Both species have recently become numerous in Japanese cities.

You can also see several stuffed birds that were taken from Japan in the 19th century by Philipp Franz von Siebold. The namesake of the museum acquired a versatile natural history collection during his stay in Japan (1823-1829).

Japanese art has a rich tradition in the representation of flora and fauna. Until the 17th century powerful, fabulous animals such as dragons, phoenixes, lion-dogs, birds of prey and tigers were portrayed belligerently. This topic changed when the power of the samurai diminished and the urban culture developed. Rich traders sought refinement and a friendly style, and in the artistic imagination of nature lovely animals were portrayed in subtle and balanced compositions. Flowers and birds became a popular subject not only for aesthetic beauty, but also because of their symbolic function.

This is a folding screen depicting a Steller's sea eagle

This is a folding screen depicting a Steller’s sea eagle.

Mandarin ducks by Imao Keinen (1845-1924)

Also present was this 1891 double woodblock print by Imao Keinen (1845-1924). It depicts a mandarin duck couple in winter. It reminded me of mandarin ducks I have seen in winter in Hilversum harbour, and in spring in China.

This 8 December 2018 video is about the catalogue of the exhibition.

In the late 19th century, large-billed crows became a popular subject.

Japanese cyberspace minister knows nothing about computers


This 15 November 2018 video says about itself:

A Japanese minister in charge of cyber security has provoked astonishment by admitting he has never used a computer in his professional life, and appearing confused by the concept of a USB drive.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, is the deputy chief of the government’s cyber security strategy office and also the minister in charge of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that Tokyo will host in 2020.

In parliament on Wednesday however, he admitted he doesn’t use computers. “Since the age of 25, I have instructed my employees and secretaries, so I don’t use computers myself”, he said in a response to an opposition question in a lower house session, local media reported.

He also appeared confused by the question when asked about whether USB drives were in use at Japanese nuclear facilities. His comments were met with incredulity by opposition lawmakers.

“It’s unbelievable that someone who has not touched computers is responsible for cyber security policies”, said opposition lawmaker Masato Imai.

And his comments provoked a firestorm online. “Doesn’t he feel ashamed?” wrote one Twitter user. “Today any company president uses a PC. He doesn’t even know what a USB is. Holy cow.”

Another joked that perhaps Sakurada was simply engaged in his own kind of cyber security. “If a hacker targets this Minister Sakurada, they wouldn’t be able to steal any information. Indeed it might be the strongest kind of security!”

Sakurada has been in office just over a month, after being appointed in a cabinet reshuffle following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s reelection as head of his political party. But he has already come fire for other gaffes in parliament including garbling an opposition lawmaker’s name and repeatedly stating “I don’t know the details” when questioned about his new Olympic brief.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Japanese cyber minister knows nothing about computers

The Japanese internet security minister is under attack because he knows nothing about computers. Minister Yoshitaka Sakurada (68) has admitted that he has never used a computer.

Sakurada was installed a month ago. In parliament he received questions about malware (malicious software) and what a USB port is for. When the minister said that such a port was practically never used, the MPs began to laugh incredulously. The interrogation was directly visible on Japanese TV.

Mr Sakurada is in the right-wing government of Prime Minister Abe. To become a minister in that government, you don’t have to know anything about anything. You just have to be right-wing. Eg, Mr Sakurada said that World War II comfort women [women forced into prostitution] were “professional prostitutes. That’s business.”

Mr Sakurada is in a government which does not know, or pretends not to know, that militarism is wrong; that the Japanese regime in World War II practiced forced prostitution and other crimes; that nuclear plants are dangerous; that Fukushima food is hazardous to eat; etc.

I guess that the only thing that Mr Sakurada does know about computers is that his job is to, like in the USA, France, Germany etc., censor pro-peace leftist Internet sites.

Subterranean insect-like animal discovery in Japan


The giant newly described species Pacificampa daidarabotchi, discovered in the Mejiro-do cave, Kyushu, Japan. Photo by Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira

From ScienceDaily:

The world’s largest campodeid dipluran named after the mythological giant Daidarabotchi

The insect-like animal is also the first subterranean representative of its family in Japan

October 25, 2018

Summary: Two new to science dipluran species were discovered in touristic caves in the southern Japanese islands. Amongst them is the largest member of the campodeid family, aptly named after the giant Japanese yökai creature Daidarabotchi. They belong to a genus so far known exclusively from a few caves scattered across the easternmost continental parts of Asia.

Amongst the fauna thriving in the subterranean spaces below the surface of the earth’s crust, the insect-like diplurans and, precisely, those in the campodeid family are one of the best-known groups, currently comprising almost 150 species. However, not a single subterranean member of the family had been known from Japan until very recently.

As part of a project at the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development, the research team of Dr. Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Brasil, and Dr. Kazunori Yoshizawa, Hokkaido University, Japan, conducted an expedition to a total of 11 carbonate caves in the southern Japanese islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. Out of these, they managed to collect dipluran specimens from three touristic sites and sent them to Dr. Alberto Sendra from the Research group in Soil Biology and Subterranean Ecosystems at Alcala University, Spain, for identification.

To the amazement of the scientists, it turned out that they had collected specimens of two previously unrecognised species of well-adapted subterranean campodeid diplurans.

Moreover, one of the new species (Pacificampa daidarabotchi), identified exclusively from the Mejiro-do cave located near an active quarry in Kyushu, proved to be the largest known dipluran in the family Campodeidae. Measuring about 10 mm in length, the creature looks gigantic next to any other campodeid, which, most often, are only half as big.

Inspired by the peculiar size of the former, the researchers decided to name it after the giant yökai creature Daidarabotchi, known from Japanese mythology. According to one of the legends, Daidarabotchi once lifted up the mountains of Fuji and Tsukuba in order to weigh them. By accident, he split the peak of Tsukuba in the process.

Another remarkable finding from the same study is that the genus, where both new species were assigned — Pacificampa — serves as yet another example of the former physical connection between Asia and America some millennia ago. In their paper, the scientists note that the genus demonstrates close affinities with a genus known from North America.

“We hope that this discovery could stop the destruction of the land nearby and preserve for the future the subterranean habitat of these remarkable gigantic species”, say the researchers in conclusion.