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Wednesday, 11th June 2014
In General Japan News,

Japan to replace whaling with whale watching

Japan has long faced criticism over its whaling agenda, which sees it hunt a limited number of the beasts for supposedly scientific purposes every year. But all that could be about to change, with the tourist industry clubbing together in order to promote whale-watching and dolphin-watching activities off the coast of certain Japanese islands.

More than 200 operators from all over the country gathered in Tokyo to launch the Japan Whale and Dolphin Watching Council last week (June 6th), following a massive surge of interest in the activity from holidaymakers.

Marine campaigns manager Matthew Collis described the development as a positive change for the industry, as it could indicate a collective change in the mindset of Japanese society and will bring much-needed cash flow to coastal communities.

"That's why the tourism operators themselves have come together because they realise the value of that and the importance of that within Japan itself," he said.

"I think it's demonstrating that there's a new generation in Japan that doesn't look at whales as food but looks at them as living, breathing magnificent creatures that they are and that are far more fun to shoot with a camera than with a harpoon."

Collins cited the western Australian town of Albany as an example of a place that now serves as a major whale watching community, having given up hunting the creatures, and said coastal settlements in Japan will eventually go the same way.

However, with prime minister Shinzo Abe threatening to step up whaling operations in the name of scientific research, the goal of watching these creatures rather than killing them seems quite far off.

But as promoters start an international effort to bring visitors from overseas to Japan's shores, there's no telling what can be achieved.

Written by  Mark Smith