Will Tokyo's Burger King bring back the Whaler?
Willy is finally Free to land in a lunchbox
For sheer barking horror and human revulsion, the front-page news satisfies. But to appreciate the unknowable madness at work in the human character, one frequently needs to roam a few pages deeper into the world news.
In that spirit, why not spend a cheerful moment considering Japan's longstanding mania to widen the butchery of whales? For years, the Japanese have hunted hundreds of whales each season under the guise of conducting "scientific research"--with the research subjects ending up in the seafood column of restaurant menus. By now, the Japanese have firmly tested the hypothesis that firing a harpoon with an implanted grenade into the flank of a minke will result in cetacean mortality.
Japan's longstanding goal has been to waive the international bans on the commercial harpoon trade. To this end, the nation has made a habit of bribing poorer nations with development aid to join the International Whaling Commission and help overturn the two-decade-old moratorium.
As environmental skullduggery, this piece of theater is predictably miserable. (One can even argue, as whaling advocates do, that certain species stocks have returned to healthy levels and could support a harvest.) The missing element that paints humanity in a grotesque hue is the fact that Japanese diners and consumers no longer want to eat whale. In fact, according to a recent Washington Post feature, "last year, the industry put 20 percent of its 4,000-ton haul into frozen surplus." (Could the falling demand and plummeting prices have anything to do with the fact that whale meat pulled from Japan's coastal waters contains up to 57 times the mercury contamination allowed under the country's provisional safety limit?)
Nonetheless, the government has begun a program to stir its seven year olds to crave a take-out basket of Moby Dick with fries (or is that udon noodles?). The Post's Anthony Faiola writes:
As part of a program by the Japanese government and the fishing industry to rebuild Japan's endangered taste for whale, the students--some with less enthusiasm than others--dug into the crispy nuggets dished into little plastic lunchboxes. After the feast, the children headed home with official books on whales that included helpful tips on how to defrost whale meat (over two days), as well as recipes for whale burgers and whale soup.
Does all this yummy talk leave anyone else a little peckish for the extinction of different mammalian species?