JIN-421 -- Whale Riders vs. Whale Eaters

J@pan Inc magazine presents:
The 'JIN' Japan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 421 Wednesday July 4, 2007 TOKYO

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Whale Riders vs. Whale Eaters

In Japanese political demonology there is no country other than
North Korea that most regularly gets cast as the fount of all
international evil. An exception may perhaps be made for a brief
period in the aftermath of the 2000 Olympic games after New
Zealand referee Craig Monaghan awarded a point to a Frenchman in
a judo match against Japan's Shinichi Shinohara, one angry email
alleged that New Zealand was more 'hateful' than the land of Kim
Jong Il (see full story here).

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However despite such rare but intense flashpoints, relations
between Japan and New Zealand have generally been
characterized by friendliness and mutual respect. Since full
diplomatic relations were established in 1952, the countries
have cooperated and worked together on issues related to
trade, security and culture. In New Zealand, Japan finds a large
market for its automotive industry and, going the other way,
New Zealand exports a sizable chunk of its aluminum and cheese
to Japan.

Tourism is another bilateral success story with over 160,000
Japanese visiting New Zealand every year―an increase partly
driven by New Zealand's Hollywood successes as location for both
the Lord of the Rings and The Last Samurai. The latter made use of
New Zealand's Mout Taranaki that bears a natural resemblance to
Japan's Mount Fuiji, a great allure for many Japanese.

That said, the Japan/New Zealand Business Council have often
raised concerns about the number of assaults on Japanese tourists
- Show quoted text -
which somewhat tarnish the images of peace and tranquility shown
in the brochure. From New Zealand, Japan receives in excess of
30,000 visitors a year although, if you work at the J@pan Inc
office you'd be forgiven for thinking that kiwis were the most
populous foreign residents, and probably the best at Japanese. In
the foreign business community of Japan more generally there are
also a number of big players such as Tim Williams' ValueCommerce
(see J@pan Inc No. 70), John Doherty's Daijob (originally Terrie
Lloyd's) while Fonterra, specialising in Dairy products is very
active in promoting commercial ties with Chairman Henry van der
Heyden also on the board of the New Zealand International
Business Forum―a lobby group in favour of a Free Trade Agreement
with Japan.

On the political level the two island nations agree on a number
of issues beyond the similarities of democracy and capitalism.
In the 1980s Japan, New Zealand and Australia found unity in
their anti-nuclear policies and after the Cold War in 1993 the
Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP)
was founded to promote regional security cooperation with
Japan and New Zealand taking proactive roles.

When it comes to whales however, things are not so cordial.
Prime Minister Helen Clark is known for her outspoken comments
at the International Whaling Commission and Tokyo often gets
bashed in the New Zealand press for its persistence of whale
hunting (for more on this see a previous Terrie's Take).
It is interesting however that
the movie Whale Rider, a story about a young girl and the
centrality of whales to Maori culture, did extremely well in
Japan.

In the cultural sphere there is generally more fraternity
than friction. Many Japanese note the similarities in language
between Maori and Japanese and both nations are similar
traditions of farming and fishing (except whales). On the rugby
pitch relations have also been relatively good despite Japan
allowing the All Blacks to break the record 'most points ever
scored in a match' when the lost 145-17 in 1995. More recently,
exhibiting their talent for learning skills from those who defeat
them, Japan sent Naoya Nomure and Takeshi Fujiwara of the Suntory
Sungoliath's to train with the Wellington club, Western Subs. The
initiative was apparently the result of ex-All Black Alama
Ieremia who's coached the Sungoliath's for the past 6 years.
(for the full story click here)
Deeper still, ex-All Black John Kirwan is the current coach of
Japan's national team and kiwi Japan resident Glen Marsh
made his debut for Japan against Samoa in June.

Finally, at least a few graduating years' worth of Japanese
school children are well versed in the recipe for the Maori
classic kumara soup―it being the set text for a reading
comprehension in the Junor High School third grade textbook
named Sunshine English! I was unable to find an online version
of the full text but for the introduction see here and for the full recipe visit www.soupsong.com/rkumara.html

By Peter Harris
Chief Editor, J@pan Inc magazine

Want to comment? It is now even easier to voice your opinion
than ever before! Visit www.japaninc.com/jin418 and click on
the 'add a comment' button at the end of the article.
Alternatively you can email it directly to the author at
peter.harris@japaninc.com

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Comments

Actually the traditional Maori diet does consist of whale meat and the early settlers from the UK came for that very reason - to hunt whales. With the Gold Rush extending to the West Coast of NZ and Whaling stations also in The South Island, NZ developed into the modern juggernaut economy it is today with more power than an All Black inhaling wasabi. Kia Kaha!

Research that I have heard someone mention said that Whales have a higher intellect than other animals and that's why we shouldn't kill them. Also they are very cute and we should honor a big animal like whales. I like whales very much.

Yes I saw a whale on "Who wants to be a millionaire?" gameshow....you're right they are intelligent! the whale performed quite well until it answered that the best way to eat seafood is to is to bite the seals head off first to stop the squealing.

Actually whales – like most animals – have a very high intellect. I do not know a whale that spends 60+ hours a week in an office space without windows to make a living. I do not know a whale that has got a horrendous mortgage on a house just to swim (live) in a so-called “sought-after” area. I do not know a whale that invented technology like for example cars or coal fired power plants producing green house gases causing climate change causing extreme weather conditions and consequently flooding the house in the “sought-after” neighborhood. I have not heard of whales ... Well, I could go on here for ever, but I guess some of you understand already, while others will never no matter how many examples I list. I also like whales very much. Creatures not doing stupid things as mentioned above must have a high intellect - whatever that exactly means. Perhaps it requires a whale sized brain that weighs up to 7.8 kg to live that smart.

I think it is very interesting to read this. Can you write more articles about it?
Thank you

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