The Articulation of Japanese Culture in the Global Era: The Case of Japanese Small-Type Coastal Whaling

Friday, July 18, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Frank SOWA , Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg, Germany
After the whaling moratorium had come into force in 1986, the Japanese government as well as anthropologists and social scientists tried to establish “small-type coastal whaling” (STCW) as a new category within the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Japanese coastal whaling has a long tradition dating back to the 16th century. Even today whaling is socially, culturally and economically important in the whaling towns as Taiji. However, the articulation of whaling as Japanese culture was not successful. A comparison of the Japanese and the Greenlandic articulation strategies show: Despite of many similarities of the coastal whaling, the Greenlandic whaling is still categorized as aboriginal subsistence whaling. Thus, it is considered a legitimate cultural activity within a subsistence economy of the Greenlandic Inuit. However, all attempts to get Japanese whaling recognized as a cultural activity failed. In this way Japanese coastal whaling is continued as “scientific whaling,” while internationally criticized as being an illegitimate practice with suspected background of commercial interests. The consideration of the regulation of the international whaling as a form of global environmental regimes shows that the decisions within the International Whaling Commission will be determined by global models and categories of the world polity. Japan as an industrial country left the stage of indigeneity behind which is reserved for indigenous peoples as the Greenlandic Inuit and is perceived by the world community as being too modern, too enlightened and too developed.