Times have been tough in terms of money. Families are struggling to make ends meet and to simply get by. With the trouble that the economy has put on many people, things are even more difficult when tragedy strikes. And strike it did in Japan. On Friday, March 11, 2011, the coast of Japan was hit with the most powerful earthquake in its history. The earthquake was a magnitude 9.0, and triggered tsunami waves of 40.5 meters. As a result of the destructive incident, 15,840 people lost their lives, and 5,950 people were injured. More than half a year later, both the country and its people are still recovering. There is still much rubble to clear away and rebuilding to be done, and the threat of radiation poisoning still looms. Empty towns stand as a reminder of what used to be. Additionally, 3,647 people are still missing.
Although there is still approximately 23 million tons of debris left to be removed, Japan has decided to allocate 2.28 billion yen ($30m US) to a more commercial operation: Whaling. This is in addition to its annual funds of $6 million. Greenpeace forced Japanese officials to divulge their financial plan. The executive director of Greenpeace Japan, Junichi Sato, commented, “It is absolutely disgraceful for the Japanese government to pump yet more taxpayer money on an unneeded, unwanted, and economically unviable whaling programme, when funds are desperately needed for recovery efforts.” I could not have put it more eloquently.
Japan officially granted the money to the Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR), which is the agency that oversees the whaling operation. The program is carried out under the guise of research, but all whale meat is commercially sold. This year, the whaling operation plans to kill more than 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales in the Southern Ocean. As it is illegal to carry out such acts within this area, Sea Shepherd has vowed to stop them. Japan claims that this program will aid the towns wrecked by the tsunami.
People have lost their lives and their homes, and some are still searching for loved ones. Towns and peoples’ livelihoods have been devastated. Yet, Japan continues to justify their acts. It is downright shameful. This money should go to helping people, not aiding a commercial practice.