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Japan and the reporting of whaling

Firstly I have to say this is blog is definitely my own opinion and not that of WDC, but I wanted to share it with you as I think it’s a matter of debate that is relevant to the whaling issue and indeed, the future path of Japan on a number of issues.


The Japanese whaling interests and their allies in government have one particular card that they have exploited for a long time.

The Japanese media has historically been reluctant to discuss any version of the whaling debate that runs contrary to the view of the pro-whaling interests. In previous discussions with Japanese journalists they have told us that it is very difficult for any one news outlet to take a position contrary to the majority position adopted by other journals, of which, most if not all will take the government line on an issue that the government tells them is of ‘national importance. Of course there are one or two journalists who are brave and professional enough to buck this trend and actually report the news and relevant debates, but they are, of course, in a minority.

I had thought, that after the tragedy of Fukushima, the Japanese press were becoming more questioning of government statements, but it seems that may be about to change again.

It was therefore, with some trepidation that we awaited the appointment of the new head of NHK, the Japanese broadcaster, as he or she would be setting the tone for reporting in Japan for some time to come.

The Japan Times reports that, ‘the new chairman of NHK said Saturday that its programming for foreign audiences should “state Japan’s positions in no uncertain terms” on territorial disputes with China and South Korea, while defending the nation’s use of wartime “comfort women” and dismissing press freedom concerns about the new state secrets law.’

This blatant statement that the national broadcaster would act as a propaganda mouthpiece for the government and not an advocate for the people of Japan (there is, I would argue, a distinction) augurs poorly for the issue of whaling and accurate reporting.

If Katsuto Momii’s reported comments are anything to go by, no issue is safe from political interference.

On the issue of rape and abuse of Korean and Chinese, and indeed other ‘enemy’, women that were captured by the Japanese military forces in World War II, Momii has apparently sought to excuse such abuses by stating ‘…such an institution existed in “every country” and that it is only considered wrong based on “today’s morality.”’

This of course reflects the previous statements of the Japanese Prime Minister who, in 2007, the Sydney Morning Herald reports as stating …’there was no evidence that Japan directly forced women to work as sex slaves.’ 

So what can we expect when it comes to the reporting on the issue of Japanese whaling when an institution such as NHK is willing to actively dismiss the suffering of hundreds of thousands of women in Japan’s brutal subjugation of China and South East Asia?

I have no problem when pro-whalers make their case in the news as long as its accurate, – thats a product of democracy. But we should all fear when a national, supposedly public, institution openly declares itself for one nationalistic political stance rather than being willing to report the news. There lies a dangerous path for all, – people and whales.

Ongoing debate – NHK governors back Abe agenda, minutes reveal