Monday, September 6. 2010
Its a regular thing at IWC meetings that somebody representing whaling interests trots out the statement that anyone that opposes whaling is a 'racist'. Its an attempt to polarize the debate away from the issues and into the sphere of vitriol. We spend a lot of time trying to be careful about what we says, unpicking all our statements to make sure these people who would deflect the debate, cannot stretch anything we say in such a way as to support their crusade.
What's so pathetic of these attacks is that many of the world's anti-whaling campaigners are also fervent advocates against injustices against humans as well as standing up against the brutality of whaling.
Its seems that this is not quite the same for the pro-whalers. Makoto Sakurai, founder and leader of Japanese right-wing group Zaitokukai, advocates the use of force against Australia to secure Japanese whaling rights in the Southern Ocean. His party has grown to over 10,000 members, becoming largest and loudest in a new ultra-nationalist movement that marshals its forces online, and is known as the “Net Far Right”.
But it appears that extremist views are not limited to the right wing. Ichiro Ozawa, the former secretary-general of Japan's ruling Democratic Party, dismissed the American people as “simple-minded”. The 68-year-old politician, who resigned as the second most important official in the ruling party in June after coming under fire for campaign finance scandals, reportedly said: “I don’t like British people,” before commenting that he liked the way the British prisoners of war marched in the film, 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'.
And is it important that the ex-secretary general of Japan's DP says? Well yes, as he is now running for leader of his party and, therefore, prime minister thanks to the party's majority in the Japanese lower house. The election is on the 14th September.
If Mr. Ozawa wins can expect a continued nationalist diatribe from Japan on whaling? Japan's negotiators and diplomats may not have any freedom to negotiate on its whaling, and anyway Ozawa regards the west (anyone who is not Japanese one suggests) as societies that are at a 'dead end'.
So don't hold your breath for the whales.