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UBC Theses and Dissertations

‘Save the whales, save the earth :’ Japan’s exit from the International Whaling Commission Kometer, Stefanie


After the controversial exit of Japan from the International Whaling Commission in December 2018, many have debated the reason(s) behind this exit. This paper will analyze the discourse surrounding this issue, focusing on the last decade in general, and this recent exit in particular. It will explain the arguments put forward by Japan, which holds a pro-whaling stance, as well as the arguments of the opposing nations with an anti-whaling position. While Japan states that their pro-whaling stance is largely based on national traditions and culture, and they should therefore be able to carry out commercial whaling free of others’ judgment, I argue that the reason behind the withdrawal are the internal political dynamics of the ‘Iron Triangle,’ as well as a push back against what they perceive as imperialism by Western states. The Iron Triangle refers to a triangle of politicians, government bureaucrats, and big businesses drafting and enforcing policy for mutual interests. I will also explain the relationship between the Japanese government and the Japanese population and how it affects, or more precisely, does not affect Japan’s policy making surrounding the whaling issue. The thesis will conclude by summarizing the developments and evaluating what can be done in the future to improve the current situation.

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