Amazon Removes Whale Meat From Japanese Website
Japanese fishermen slaughter a Baird's beaked whale.
Photograph: Everett Kennedy Brown/ Everett Kennedy Brown/epa/Corb
It’s official, Amazon has removed all whale meat products from its Japanese website. Amazon, the online store giant, has been selling whale meat, whale bacon, whale jerky and other meat products on its Japanese website, and investigators from environmental investigation agency (EIA) found over 147 whale related products for sale. Following a public outrage, Amazon has officially removed all items from its website last Tuesday.
Whale meat has been largely associated with Japan, where despite an international ban on commercial whaling enforced by the International Whaling Commission in 1986, the practice carries on under a new title ‘research’. There are other countries, however, like Iceland and the Faroe Islands who have whale meat on their menus. The yearly slaughter in the Faroe Islands provides more meat than the country can consume, however, it is considered tradition, and environmentalists have come up against a brick wall trying to stop them.
So why is whale meat so popular in Japan that the country continues to hunt these animals despite an international ban? Well, apparently it’s not! According to Time Magazine, over 61% of Japanese people have not eaten whale meat since childhood. It is very expensive, and is now promoted as a delicacy. It is perhaps safe to say, that foreigners eat more whale meat than the Japanese themselves.
In order to understand whaling, one has to look back at the history of whaling. Whaling has been a part of Japanese culture for millennia. Ironically, however, it was the Americans who persuaded the Japanese to eat whale meat during World War II as a cheap source of protein. It was around this time that the whaling industry boomed, and the whales began to disappear. The Japanese see international efforts to stop their practice as arrogant, they do not feel anyone should challenge their culture, and so the practice continues. It is not a culinary issue, but a political one, and the same argument holds for other whale-eating countries as well.Continued on the next page