Is it ethical to boycott Japan?

Our ethical columnist on the 'uncivilised barbarity' of the world's leading whaling nation.

<I>Dear Ethan,

I am so furious with the Japanese for continuing to hunt whales! It makes me want to scream! But I want to do something more useful than that…. Tell me, would it be ethical to boycott everything Japanese – all of their food, electrical products, etc, etc? I think that would hit Japan where it really hurts and make them rethink their bloody expedition in the Antarctic.

Sheila Mayweather
Dorset


Dear Sheila,

If I had a penny for every tear I’ve shed over Japan’s mad massacre of these great big majestic cows of the ocean, I’d have at least £2.89. We are witnessing nothing less than whaleocide: illegal butchery of one of Gaia’s proudest, most intelligent and peaceful beasts by one of Gaia’s cruellest, most callous and war-thirsty beasts: the Japanese.

Sorry if that offends my sensitive readers, or indeed my Japanese readers. But then, you people have no idea what it’s like to have a metal stake fired into your back at 100mph, do you? (If you have had an experience along those lines, please let me know: I am currently collating an audio/visual/touch/feel/smell exhibition for our local church hall called ‘When Whales Weep’.)

My mother – a Middle England, helmet-hair type, whose own father was on the receiving end of Japanese cruelty during the Second World War (which means my family has real and direct empathy with what the whales are experiencing) – used to say: ‘Oooh, the Japanese are a cruel race.’ I would get so embarrassed. ‘Don’t be backward’, I’d tell her. How naïve and unworldly I was! Mum was right all along: what more evidence do we need of the Japs’ innate cruelty than their current bloodying of the Antarctic Ocean with the guts and innards of entire communities of minke and humpback, and probably some dolphins too while they’re at it, the blood-spilling bastards?

Let’s not beat around the bush here. As one Australian columnist said, the Japanese are indulging in ‘uncivilised barbarity’, and the Australian government must send a clear ‘message to Tokyo’: ‘This is the last time your uncivilised barbarity will be tolerated.’ Absolutely.

Other commentators have described the Japs as ‘terrorists’ (actually, they’re worse than terrorists: when did al-Qaeda ever use harpoons against man or beast?) and as ‘viciously cruel’ (mum, I hope you’re reading this – vindicated at last!). This is all well and good, and of course absolutely true; but I prefer the more honest description of the Japanese written in the comments section of an anti-whaling website: ‘They don’t kill whales for scientific purposes, that is utter bullshit. They kill them because they are fucking evil bloodthirsty amoral wankers.’

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it Sheila? But when the future of whalekind is at stake, we have a duty to be harsh. I know, and you know, and anti-whaling commentators and activists around the world know, that when we say the Japanese are ‘viciously cruel’ and ‘barbaric’ what we really mean is that they are ‘fucking evil bloodthirsty amoral wankers’. So why don’t we just come out and say it? Sure, it will isolate the Japanese people from the environmentalist/whale liberty cause, but then the Japanese never contributed very much in the first place: they’ve always been more interested in building fancy glinting cities and super high-speed trains, while wearing cute kitten t-shirts and tucking into whale sushi and live octopus soup for lunch, than in saving the planet.

Easily the best thing to come out of this horrific massacre of unsuspecting daddy, mummy and baby whales is that Australia is FINALLY taking seriously its role as the guardian of animal rights in that rather reckless corner of the world, the Pacific. Through no fault of their own – they simply went through a different historical development process to we Britons – many Oriental and Polynesian cultures have a shockingly backward attitude to animal wellbeing and self-esteem. Some of them even eat dogs! And ducks! I was horrified to my very core when I walked through Chinatown in Leicester Square recently and saw skinned, scorched and sautéed ducks hanging from hooks in the windows of Chinese slaughterhouses (some people call them ‘restaurants’). I wrote a stern letter to the Mayor of London asking why he had allowed such a horrendous, alien culture to be imported into the capital city of the most animal-loving nation on Gaia’s good earth, and what did I get for my troubles? A verbal warning from an official at the Commission for Racial Equality.

Yes, we should congratulate the Aussie government for decreeing that the Japanese whale hunt is illegal. And I was super-delighted to see that a letter spelling out Australia’s case against Japan was hand-delivered to the Japanese whaling fleet by two activists from the superhero Sea Shepherd ship! This ship has been trailing and wailing at the evil whalers for the past two months, and this week two of its crew risked being harpooned through the heart (well, if the Japanese are happy to kill beautiful whales, why should we trust them not to kill less-than-beautiful human beings?) when they leapt on board the whalers’ vessel of rotting flesh and murderous stench and handed the bamboozled, blood-stained harpooners a letter containing a stern telling-off from Kevin Rudd. If that doesn’t make them turn back to Japan, nothing will.

What a wonderful act of unity this was, Sheila, between a sensible government keen to police its neighbours’ stab-happy barbarism and radical activists who recognise no border or limit in their effort to save the whale/the planet/the deluded people of the Pacific. I like to think that the Aussies are anti-whaling because they are imbued with good ol’ British values. All of those British convicts shipped to Australia in centuries gone by brought one useful thing with them: a very English love for animals! (Though we should note that even in Blighty animal cruelty is rife: monkeys in laboratory cages, ‘dangerous dogs’ turned into killing machines by underclass urchins. We need to get our own house in order or else we will lose the moral right to hector and lecture the Japanese.) Now, Sheila, we must call on other level-headed governments in less than level-headed parts of the world to follow Australia’s lead and take action against anti-animal savagery.

For example, we should pressure the authorities in South Africa, which have strong European influences, to do something about elephant slaughter in Botswana. The local government of the Falkland Islands ought to challenge Argentina’s mistreatment of dogs (there are millions of strays, apparently). And perhaps the people on the rock of Gibraltar can cross over into Spain proper and do something, ANYTHING, about Spaniards’ harassment and stabbing to death of bulls and their grotesque abuse and starvation of donkeys. (Part of the problem is that Spaniards, though ostensibly European, also have some African flecks in their cultural make-up.)

So yes, Sheila, by all means boycott EVERYTHING that says ‘Made in Japan’ on it. But you must also go further if you want to save the whales. You must also join my daily protest outside the Japanese Embassy in London (chants include, ‘Whalers, do the world a favour: commit hara-kari’); write letters to every Japanese person you know (they must bear collective responsibility for their government’s slaughter); and then consider helping me to finish building my own boat, The Enola Gay, which I hope to launch in a few weeks’ time, with the aim of finding and foulmouthing those evil whalers in the bloodied Antarctic.

Ethan Greenhart is here to answer all your questions about ethical living in the twenty-first century. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Read his earlier columns here.

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