Ancient whalers ply their trade, from a scroll at the Taiji Whaling

Museum in Wakayama Prefecture. Would the world be more open

to whaling by Japan if it knew more about Taiji's history?



'Japan Should Continue Whaling' (Sankei Shimbun, Japan)


"Unlike Western countries, which for the most part took the oil and discarded the rest, Japanese don’t throw anything away. I have to tell the true story of [whaling in] Taiji. Japan should continue whaling. ... What Japanese need to do is be less concerned about criticism from the United States and Europe, and tell the truth about whaling. Taiji should confront them with confidence."


-- Cinematographer and Wakayama University Scholar Simon Wearne




Translated By Chihiro Kamiya


April 20, 2014


Japan - Sankei Shimbun - Original Article (Japanese)

Australian cinematographer and scholar Simon Wearne has become an advocate for Japanese whaling, and believes that telling the world about Japan's whaling culture is the best strategy for helping others understand it.


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An Australian cinematographer who filmed the first episode of Whale Wars, a documentary series on the anti-whaling group "Sea Shepherd," has become an alternative activist for conveying the culture of Wakayama Prefecture to the world. With public opinion in Europe, America and his own country increasingly opposed, he says that if we tell the world about Taiji's whaling history, unbroken during the Edo period [1603-1867], global perceptions would change.


Simon Wearne (57) is an assistant professor at Wakayama University. He once worked as a maker of documentaries for private television in Australia and overseas, and covered environmental issues in Tasmania.


[Editor's Note: Mr. Wearne has contacted Worldmeets.US to say that the Sankei Shimbun misquoted him. Rather than, "Japan should continue whaling," Mr. Wearne says the quote should say, "Japan could continue whaling." According to Mr. Wearne, the newspaper apologized to him, although the quote has not been changed on the Sankei Shimbun Web site.]


Between Heisei 18 and 19 [2007 and 2008], he participated in filming the first season of programming for the popular American TV show Whale Wars. In the Southern Ocean, Wearne filmed for five weeks on a Sea Shepherd vessel.


During filming, crew members were captured after, without permission, they boarded a whaling ship. When they were released, Mr. Wearne heard the story of a Japanese whaler willing to talk to those who had sabotaged his work. He heard of how another sailor gave them a DVD of the popular animated film Princess Mononoke, which has an environmental issues theme. Wearne says that this reflects an open mind on the part of the whalers. However, none of this information was conveyed on the Whale Wars program.

Posted By Worldmeets.US


Although the cinematography was nominated for an Emmy Award, which is given to the finest American TV programs, he had doubts about Animal Planet’s policy of broadcasting only what the producers want audiences to see.


Wanting to know about Japanese whaling, in October 2008, Wearne visited Taiji. He learned about the ancient whaling tradition in which fishermen drive whales into a nets using multiple ships, hunting them by throwing harpoons. He was impressed by the teamwork and technology first created during the Edo period, and which was handed down by their ancestors.


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Nishinippon Shimbun, Japan: Whale Hunting Protects Marine Life - and Japanese Culture
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Mainichi Shimbun: U.N. Court's Ruling Worries Japan's Whalers  


“Unlike Western countries, which for the most part took oil and discarded the rest, Japanese didn’t throw anything away." Wearne was also surprised that many Japanese themselves know nothing of this history or background. “I want to tell the true story of Taiji,” he says. Now, as he conducts his research on alternative activism and whaling, he also teaches at the Wakayama University Faculty of Tourism.


Wearne says, “Japan should continue whaling,” and he doesn't take a pessimistic view toward the order by the International Court of Justice for Japan to stop granting permits for its Antarctic whaling program.


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“What Japanese need to do is be less concerned about criticism from the United States and Europe, and tell the truth about whaling. Taiji should confront them with confidence,” he said gravely.


[Editor's Note: Simon Wearne submitted the following comment after this article was posted:

"Preserving Japan's traditional whaling culture is difficult if it doesn't exist as a current practice, or is inadequately presented as a cultural heritage. It is important to interpret traditional Japanese whaling as one of the world's great stories of sustainability, which was wiped out by Western interference. Whaling in 17th century Japan centered on Edo principles of sustainability, and was the basis of a complex system of manufacture. Particularly in light of the current state of public opinion, which has been shaped by poorly researched journalism and a sensationalized media, this is an important story that needs to be told." Readers can reach Simon Wearne at this address:].



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Posted By Worldmeets.US Apr. 19, 2014, 5:19pm




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