As you well know, we are a Tokyo based firm managed by a close group of founders who have traveled to over 60 countries and embrace ideas from other cultures as a result. When studying the history of Japan we quickly learn that it has a history very different from Australia, South Africa, the US, Canada and let`s say France. These are all countries with abundant food sources that would include grains, fruit, fish and a variety of dairy and meat products. Food security is a part of life in these countries.
However, Japan, despite growing a lot of rice, does not have a culture – mainly for historical reasons – for bread, dairy and meat. One interesting historical fact was after WWII, the US occupied Japan from 1945 to 1952 to help rebuild cities, and kickstart agriculture. After realizing the that it could not achieve its goal of importing cattle and introducing beef to the population, the US military had its doctors explain to the Japanese public – it was a lie – that Japanese had longer intestines and eating meat would introduce negative health patterns to the population.
And the Japanese believed this nonsense. Meat was not introduced for 30 years, arriving in the 1980s. Japan is a massive importer of meat now. But being a culture farmland used almost exclusively for rice, before this meat culture was introduced, the Japanese looks to the oceans as large farms – they harvested their protein – meat of the sea – from the oceans. So the Japanese, as it has been explained to us many times, view whales the same way that the Aussies, Brits and Americans view cows. They call whales cows of the sea and have always whaled, for centuries.
Now this is not in defense of whaling – one of our partners has walked past a whale restaurant for 30 years – not once stepping inside. But we westerners are a bit upset that Japanese just announced, after 31 years, that they will allow a maximum of 383 whales to be captured each year for consumption. With so many alternatives – literally hundreds of types of fish offered in Japanese markets – we feel the cows of the sea should get a break. How about starting a program to increase the population of whales by 5,000 per year?