Japan Sends Mixed Signals on Whale Hunt

It cites tradition but denies tribe's bid to fish for salmon
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2007 3:25 PM CST
In this photo released by Greenpeace, a tugboat pushes the 8,044-ton Nisshin Maru, the mother ship of Japanese whaling fleet, as it leaves Shimonoseki Port in Yamaguchi Prefecture (state), western Japan,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Japan has a ready defense for its internationally maligned whale hunt: Whaling is integral to Japanese culture, embedded in the country's traditional diet, literature, and religion. Yet this argument looks questionable in light of the Japanese government's refusal to allow indigenous people to continue their traditional salmon fishing, writes Bruce Wallace in an analysis for the LA Times.

Salmon has long been a staple of the diet and culture of the Ainu people of northern Japan, Wallace writes, but this doesn't stop the Japanese government from denying the Ainu the right to fish wild salmon. Japan insists it is defending tradition against emotion-fueled anti-whaling activism from the West—but won't extend that principle to the Ainu.