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The examination of Japanese reporting practice, including the club (reporters’ club) system, to be conducted in this study will shed light on this particular aspect of the issue.
However, the problem for Australian reporters accessing Japanese information is not one of language but of access to additional privileged information provided to Japanese reporters by the government via the In Australia, it is widely believed that Japan conducts illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean.
While it is fair to say that whaling is illegal in accordance with Australia’s domestic regulations, Australia’s territorial claim over Antarctic waters is not universally recognised.
Clearly, the whaling issue is not as simple as it may appear in the Australian media.
To understand the problem, a comprehensive understanding of Japanese society and culture, in addition to the facts about whaling, is required.
Mike Danaher claims there are four reasons why Japan wants to continue whaling in spite of international criticism: whaling is a cultural tradition, internationally legal, sustainable under an open science and harvest plan, and does not attract ‘any significant domestic anti-whaling movement.’ Thus, international voices do not have a significant impact on Japanese policy-makers.
Atsushi Ishii and Ayako Okubo criticise Danaher’s views, stating that ‘he overemphasizes…This study assesses how the whaling issue is reported in both Australia and Japan, and what influences that reporting.It also focuses on Japan’s Australia and Japan have established good bilateral relationships based on mutually complementary economic relations.Because Japan’s whaling policy has been formed through a structure that ‘is highly centralised with strong bureaucratic leadership,’ the government ‘has allowed virtually no room for citizens’ groups to affect Japan’s whaling policy.’ Japanese NGOs have had some impact on other environmental issues, but anti-whaling NGOs are relatively powerless because ‘the Fisheries Agency and Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) have no interest in working with them.’ Supporting Hirata’s view, the well-known Australian ethicist Peter Singer also noted that the voices of environmentalists, including those from anti-whaling movements, do not penetrate through to the general public.Singer claims this is because Japanese people are identified as a member of a group, rather than in terms of their individuality.Australia stopped whaling in the 1970s due to ethical and environmental reasons, whereas Japan continues the practice in the name of science.A cursory inspection of news reporting on the issue indicates that these public opinions are definitely reflected in the media, both in Australia and in Japan.whereas the international community has shifted from a pro-whaling to an anti-whaling stance over this period.Wong emphasises that ‘Japan’s policy on whaling has been most strongly determined by the perspective of the Fisheries Agency’ which acts as ‘its chief policy maker.’ Wong concludes that the Fisheries Agency’s view on whaling is made ‘bigger’ and ‘more inclusive’ than economics, as its discourse on whaling expands the issue into ‘one of national culture, pride, and sovereignty.’ Keiko Hirata similarly considers the culture of Japan’s domestic civil and political structures in order to explain why Japan does not adjust its whaling policy for the sake of better international relations.However, saying that is as far as Australia can go.Japan has a much stronger legal justification to support its whaling in the Southern Ocean.