Summary of statements by Mr. Nisaka, the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture, at the press conference over “the opposition to dolphin fishery by the Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan”

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Summary of statements by Mr. Nisaka, the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture, at the press conference over “the opposition to dolphin fishery by the Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan”

At the press conference on January 21, 2014, Governor Nisaka was questioned on the issues of the opposition to dolphin fishery posted on twitter by H. E. Ms. Caroline Kennedy, the Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan. Below is a summary of the Question and Answer.

Q: Ambassador Kennedy expressed her opposition to dolphin fishery on twitter as being inhumane. Can you give us your views on her opposition as the governor of Wakayama Prefecture, where drive hunting of dolphins is conducted?

A:It was a post on twitter, and I am not sure whether we should complain about everything. I, however, would like to make comments as you have asked me. First of all, the U.S. government opposes dolphin fishery. Ambassador Kennedy has to say she opposes it too because she is a U.S. diplomat. On the other hand, we, Japanese nationals, cannot always echo with the U.S. As to whaling, it is necessary for us to find solutions through a variety of international dialogues and to act on the basis of the international consensus.

Secondly, dietary culture differs from one another. Japanese nationals tend to eat a wide range of food, but in some countries, people are not allowed to eat beef or pork. In other countries, people eat food which the Japanese do not usually take in recent years. In addition, there are various kinds of taboos over dietary habitat, and it is also a matter of likes and dislikes. Under these circumstances, it is the wisdom of civilization to mutually respect others’ viewpoints. When the world faces a lack of resources, we must have international discussions to limit harvest quotas. Except for these cases, however, it is a good manner to mutually respect others.

We have eaten whales and dolphins traditionally in Japan. Let me refer to the US’s relation with whaling as the case was raised by the U.S. side this time. The reason why Commodore Perry came to Japan was whaling. The U.S. used to hunt whales with a large whaling fleet. Nowadays, hunting of most species of whales is prohibited with some exceptions. The U.S. nationals in some regions are allowed to hunt whales in manners of coastal fishing, and they are even hunting whales of control subject. The whales captured in Taiji are the small-sized whales, which are not under control. Those small-sized whales live in the coastal area are not under control, and each country is allowed to hunt them in its own way. In short, the whales hunted in Taiji are not the subject of control, but some people in the U.S. are even hunting the whales which are under protection. This situation gives me mixed feelings.

Third point is about cruelty. I feel uncomfortable about killing any animals. We, however, live on the lives of games “gibier”, cows, pigs and fish. Keeping that in mind, we cannot survive if we denied the killing of all animals. The whaling is often criticized as being inhumane, but “inhumanness” can be applied for killing of any animals in terms of cruelty. For example, livestock animals are killed at abattoirs. It is illogical that only the killing of whales and dolphins is criticized as inhumane while ignoring slaughtering of other animals.

Lastly, the Japanese, especially those in Wakayama Prefecture, are proud that we have always treasured resources. We are aware that taking of animal lives should be kept to the minimum. Therefore, we have never overhunted any resources as much as putting the species in danger of distinction. We pray for the sacrificed lives of whales and dolphins in order to express our gratitude for their lives. In addition, we have historically tried to utilize all parts of whales and dolphins in gratitude for the blessing of nature. As the same reason, we consume “gibier” such as deer and wild boars killed for the purpose of controlling harmful birds and animals. I am sure that you can understand it if you could visit Taiji. Local people are visiting shrines to show their respect for lives. I highly appreciate if everyone understands the whole picture. However, I understand that her position as the U.S ambassador make her oppose whale hunting.