Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I do not agree with Japan’s whaling practice. Industry and conservative politicians’ advocacy of its traditionalism and cultural importance is just clever mendacity. But on the other hand I reject even more the behavior of the Sea Shepherd Society that so aggressively obstructs and dangerously interferes with Japan’s whaling fleet in the southern oceans. The Sea Shepherd’s behavior on the high seas looks more like terrorism than anything else, which I think compromises its philosophical and legal arguments. It’s bad publicity that wins no minds to its cause. I do not doubt that, strictly speaking, Japan is abiding by International Whaling Commission rules, which by itself is not an argument in support of killing whales. So while I understand arguments by the Sea Shepherd’s leader, Paul Watson, that Japanese whaling is in fact illegal, I do not agree with him and so I’m not having it.
Now, the New Zealand skipper, Peter Bethune, currently in custody and charged, among other minor offenses, with trespassing aboard one of the Japanese whaling fleet’s escort ships is about to go on trial (“Kiwi whaling protester’s trial starts May 27,” May 12). I find myself wishing that he had been charged with terrorism and threatened with the gallows instead of mere trespassing and imprisonment. It’s not that I hate the man, it’s just that a terrorism charge seems like a proportional and appropriate response to the Sea Shepherd’s behavior, and to his. A terrorism charge would be a better witness to the truth of the matter. But I could be wrong.
Published on Thursday, May 20, 2010 as “Behavior warrants terror charge.”
I suspect that currently Japan does not have a law criminalizing “terrorism” and, if it does, it does prescribe execution by hanging for it. Hanging here is for particularly heinous and unrepentant murder charges. I hope the lette provokes some response, because the egregious behavior of the Sea Shepherds against the Japanese whaling fleet on the high seas deserves stronger condemnation than the horrible behavior of Japanese whalers themselves.