I am reading John Keegan's tome on 'The First World War'. Not only is a great piece of history (maybe all political scholars of European history should seek to understand how this conflict and the fifty years preceding that helped shape Europe - but that's an aside).
What struck me was the fact that the similarities of the democratic deficit that led to this awful conflict is in some ways similar to the democratic deficit in Japan with respect to public access to the whaling debate.
The new Japanese Government has instigated a review of publicly funded science in Japan, but I'd not see the Japanese commercial whaling (sorry, I mean 'scientific whaling') falling under this purview.
Maybe because very little science actually takes place, or that the very little that can be claimed is simply about increasing whaling activity, - or maybe because its not an area that the Government of Japan want the public to get involved in assessing.
Keegan notes that in 1913 Europe, the plans of Schlieffen, Moltke and colleagues, for war were not subject to scrutiny by elected or even regal authorities. Without checks and balances the very fact that these officers and civil servants continued to develop war plans that predecessors had started years before meant that war became an inevitability.
In the Japanese whaling debate we are unable to see where the elected officialdom of Japan ends and the power of unelected civil servants begins - who takes responsibility? As recently discussed here and in the media the civil servants in Japan who have continued the long planned assault on whales are increasingly being challenged on the issue of their webs of involvement with commercial companies that benefit from whaling.
When Japan decides to continue whaling who is actually making that decision and who benefits? Is it the people of Japan and their elected officials, or an unelected grouping that straddle the world of commerce and 'government'.
The result of a democratic deficit in Europe was four years of hell for millions of people. The results on the high seas has been a savagery and suffering for thousands of animals. And before anyone attacks me, of course its not the same thing, but suffering when it should not have happened is still suffering and a bloody legacy that should have been avoided.