Sunday, September 18, 2011

Opinion Polls on Whaling within Japan and why Anti-Whalers Lie About It

A recent twitter by David in Tokyo brought a poll to my attention.
Another common theme in the anti-whaling movement is pretending, sometimes even manufacturing, that there is support for their cause within Japan. This recent poll provides an opportunity to review what Japanese really think about the issue and how anti-whaling propagandists have tried to spin this.

For starters, the most recent poll.

This poll, conducted by an independent institute at behest of the Associated Press, covers a very wide range of topics ranging from social to political. However, we'll stick to the whaling questions.

Favor/Oppose whale hunting (COMMERCIAL)
Favor: 52%

Don't Care: 35%
Opposed: 13%

Interested in eating whale meat:
Very: 12%
Moderately: 21%
A Little: 26%
Not at all: 41%

My only complaint is that the poll is ridiculously skewed to the Tokyo area. A third of respondents from Greater Tokyo. Next highest is the Osaka region with almost half of that -- 18%

Suggests 2 things to me...
1. The results for eating reflect the demographics they polled. Namely, urbanites in Tokyo that don't eat much whale. There is only 1% from the entire prefecture of Wakayama. Only 3% from Northern Kyushu -- half it's true representation of the country's population.
Not that the numbers would be significantly different... but food consumption varies by region and the poll reflects this.

2. Keeping what I said in #1 in mind, the poll also reflects something else that will come up several more times. Namely, while many Japanese aren't interested in eating whale meat, they recognize it's a right for their fellow citizens in other parts of the country to do so and are in favor of supporting them to exercise those rights.

Whaling favored is 52% vs. 13%
Eating whale is 33% vs. 41%
... even though more people aren't very interested in eating whale, a clear majority exists with a dominating trend to politically support it.

Anti-whalers often attempt to co-opt ALL of those "don't care" votes to their side. That's not only disingenuous, but just plain inaccurate. Typically "don't care" votes can be interpreted as supporting the status quo. The status quo in Japan is that cetaceans are a perfectly acceptable form of food.
In general these "don't cares" are normal for this issue, however. It's not a central issue in Japan and most Japanese think it's not worth their time to get into. They have better things to worry about. Japanese haven't been brought up with the belief that you must rebel against society in order to be relevant.

Let's move on to another poll.
This is an impromptu poll done by the preeminent streaming video website in Japan, niconico. It was conducted shortly after SS' 2010 PR stunt when they staged a collision and then abandoned a perfectly good vessel in the Southern Ocean to leak and pollute the environment.
As such it's not an academic poll, but it had a much larger responding audience (over 90,000 people polled), much more in-depth questions with age breakdowns, and you can see that the same trends I previously mentioned exist.
It's worth noting the entrepreneur who runs niconico and its polls is avidly anti-whaling. However, he has also stated that propaganda like The Cove and SSCS are not constructive and he doesn't support them.
Q1. Did the news about Ady Gil (AG) and Shonan-maru 2 (SM2) collision interest you?
    - 60.7% interested
    - 23.0% neither for nor against
    - 16.3% not interested

    - 65.5% interested
    - 19.3% neither for nor against
    - 15.2% not interested

    - 55.7% interested
    - 26.8% neither for nor against
    - 17.5% not interested

    Age (bar graph, exact % not given)
    - 60% +       50yr+
    - 60% +          40-50
    - 60%+          30-40 **highest interest
    - 50%+        20-30
    - 40%+        10-20 **least interest

Q2. Whose story do you trust?
    - 55.5%        Japanese Government

    - 25.9%        Don't know
    - 17.3%        Don't care
    - 1.3%        SS

    - 61.3%        Japanese Government
    - 21.7%        Don't know
    - 15.5%        Don't care
    - 1.4%        SS

    - 49.4%        Japanese Government
    - 30.2%        Don't know
    - 19.2%        Don't care
    - 1.1%        SS

    Age (bar graph again)
    - 55%+        50yr+
    - ~60%        40-50
    - ~60%        30-40
    - 40%+        20-30
    - ~30%        10-20

Q3. Does SS make sense?
    - 83.8%        incomprehensible

    - 10.8%        don't care
    - 5.5%        make sense

    - 84%        incomprehensible
    - 10.0%        don't care
    - 6.0%        make sense

    - 83.5%        incomprehensible
    - 11.5%        don't care
    - 5.0%        make sense

    Age (bar graph again)
    Useless to read...
    30-40yr old think SS is most incomprehensible (again)
    10-20yr old think SS makes most sense (again)
    However, all are above 70% think SS is absurd.
Q4. Should Japan continue to defend whaling or shift to anti-whaling?
    - 67.0%        defend whaling
    - 23.9%        don't care
    - 9.1%        shift to anti-whaling

    - 72.5%        defend whaling
    - 19.4%        don't care
    - 8.1%        shift to anti-whaling

    - 61.4%        defend whaling
    - 28.5%        don't care
    - 10.1%        shift to anti-whaling

    Age (bar graph again)
    30-40yr old think ~70% defend whaling (highest)
    10-20yr old think ~45% defend whaling (lowest) and ~15% shift to anti-whaling (highest)

Q5. Have you ate whale?
    - 75.2%        yes
    - 24.8%        no

    - 78.4%        yes
    - 21.6%        no

    - 71.9%        yes
    - 28.1%        no

    Age (bar graph again)
    40-50yr old are over 85% ate whale meat (highest)
    10-20yr old are ~50% ate whale meat (lowest)

This poll blows some of the anti-whaling myths away.

1. The oft-repeated lie that "only 5% of Japanese eat whale meat."
The poll demonstrates over 75% of Japanese eat whale, and even more than 50% of those under 20.

2. "There is widespread anti-whaling support amongst the youth in Japan."
While the under-20 bracket shows the most support for anti-whaling, 15% can in no way be construed as support when 45% fully support whaling and the rest don't care.

3. "The only Japanese who support whaling are old generations that are dying out."

The poll is very clear and consistent in what age bracket supports whaling the most. The 30yr old age bracket.
In fact, it's easy to look at this data and describe how the hate rhetoric and racism of the anti-whaling movement makes this so. As one looks at the data from teenagers to twenty year olds to the hardline pro-whaling 30 year olds, support for whaling consistently goes up and opposition to whaling consistently goes down. 
It's worth noting half of the 30yr old age bracket did not eat whale in school lunches. This suggests that these opinions aren't based just on exposure to whale cuisine, but as part of the maturing process and exposure to anti-whaling rhetoric. 
Make no mistake, ecoterrorist groups like SSCS ensure that whaling will continue for decades to come.

Once again, the "don't care" strain of thought also comes through loud and clear.

For example, while only about 50% of the citizenry trust their Government and are skeptical of their story in the immediate aftermath -- a mere 1% of people think SSCS has any credibility.

This was another impromptu poll that asks if "The Cove" is racist.

- 44.6% it is racist
- 15.6% it's not racist
- 29% don't know
- 7.6%  it's just propaganda
- 3.2% don't care

Yet another impromptu poll. This time by Yahoo News in light of Iceland's intention to resume Commercial Whaling. It was conducted in 2006 and asks if Japanese would like to resume full-on commercial whaling and received 21,221 respondents.

89.54% Yes, Japan should resume full commercial whaling
10.46% No, Japan should not resume full commercial whaling

If you know of any other polls, whose exact questions and results are given, please feel free to share them.

It's pretty clear that while whale cuisine is specific to limited regions throughout Japan, the legal right to whale and use resources conservatively and in accordance with domestic and international law has wide-reaching support all around Japan.
Anti-whalers often try to claim that whaling isn't Culture because it's not practiced by every region in Japan. But Japanese already know this to be the case, and all indications are that they support these legal and perfectly logical rights.
For instance, both of the major parties (conservative LDP and liberal DPJ) support whaling. Even the Communist Party in Japan supports whaling. I've never heard of a political party in Japan that doesn't support whaling, which is surprising for a country with such a fractured political landscape with room for a large number of niche parties. 
That's probably because there is simply ZERO popular support for anti-whaling.

Which brings us to the issue of why and how these anti-whaling companies manufacture imaginary support. In order to keep getting donations, they rely on selling people this lie that there is growing support in Japan for their cause. Fortunately for their checking accounts -- and unfortunately for society at large -- convincing the Animal Rights crowd of anything is not difficult. They're a very gullible bunch.
Below are is a website which claims to be ran by Japanese, but when researched is in fact not Japanese at all.

As you can see the server is in Germany and the registrant is one M. Bailey in Hawaii.
This isn't the only website like this either. Most of them have a very slick appearance (corporate big-money backing) with mediocre entries in Japanese (non-native speakers) and focus almost exclusively on propaganda and lies related to mercury.

Domain Information:

[Registrant] bailey

[Created on] 2009/12/17
[Expires on] 2011/12/31
[Status] Active
[Last Updated] 2011/04/08 16:28:07 (JST)

Contact Information:
[Name] bailey
[Web Page]
[Postal code] 96816
[Postal Address] honolulu Server Details
IP address:
Server Location:
DomainFactory GmbH

Another example of anti-whalers manufacturing non-existent support happened in 2010 when the Hollywood Actress and Cove personality, Hayden Panettiere made a trip to Japan to drum up local support.
Original advertising set the goal at 2,000 participants from within the greater Osaka area. The goal was to take an aerial photo of the crowd making a design of a whale and scuba diver.
Mind, according to Wikipedia there are 22,732,176 people in the Kansai Region with Osaka at it's heart and all within a few hours by train. So it shouldn't have been difficult to get 2,000 people to come out and see a Hollywood Actress -- especially if there was any support for their cause.

In the end they only got 20. They had to get passerbys to help them take the aerial photograph.
But the revealing part is in the fact that they did not tell those passerbys for what cause they were doing it.
They lied to them. Proving that even they know there is ZERO support for anti-whaling in Japan. In no small part due to the strong racist sentiments that dominate the movement and are not only tolerated, but often encouraged.
Many of these passerbys, who had helped out of the kindness of their hearts, were not pleased when they discovered they had been duped to support a bigoted movement.
Read the explanation for yourself from a "Taiji Dolphin Action Group" coordinator.

You'll also notice not a single person in this Taiji Dolphin Action Group is Japanese or lives in Taiji.
It's a bit like the quip about the Holy Roman Empire. Not much of an Empire. Not Roman in any sense of the word. And sure as hell not Holy.
A name like "Taiji Dolphin Action Group" implies that there's a group of people in Japan doing something. But the reality is that they have zero local support. They don't actually do much of anything -- except breed ill will like we see here. And they're not even much of a group; having been co-opted by larger Corporations ran by magnates like Watson, O'Barry, and Ady Gil now.

One has to ask, why does the Anti-Whaling movement rely on deception, misinformation, and outright lying so much?
Not just about the facts surrounding whaling, but about people and societies as well.
Their cause can't be very just if these are the kind of things they lower themselves to.


  1. I am quite impressed with your research and argument. As for the interest in eating whale meat, it is, as you argued, influenced by the region and also the lack of opportunity to savoir it. Last summer, I spend summer holiday in Shimonoseki area and my kids had Saezuri, whale tongue. Since then, they are just fanatical searching for the restaurant serving it. I love it too. The easier to access it, the more we will develop the taste for it.

  2. your link to the most recent poll doesn't work.

  3. It is the United States and Australia and Canada and a British imprudent racial discrimination large country

  4. When you say that 75% eat whale meat, thats not strictly true. It just says that 75% have had it at least once in their life. There is nothing there to counter the "Only 5% eat it argument" So I cannot believe that the "research" meat is necessary.

  5. 75% is a lot more than 5%. The 75% is backed by independent research; the 5% cited by racist hate groups is not.

    As for "necessary" -- that has nothing to do with it. When your country outlaws alcohol and chocolate because it's not "necessary", feel free to bring that back up again.