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Japan promotes the hunting of whales. But few Japanese want to eat them

日本提倡捕鯨活動,但沒有多少日本人想吃鯨肉



From behind the counter of their tiny restaurant in Shimonoseki, Kojima Junko and her octogenarian mother place before Banyan some of the very last bits of the very last ?n whale mankind is ever likely to catch. In the background, Billie Holiday is singing “No Regrets”. The four thin slices look and taste like well-done beef—wolfed down with microgreens and a baguette in the name of obxtive inquiry.

小島淳子和她的八旬母親在下關市經營一家小餐館,他們從前臺后面拿出了一些鯨肉,這是人類可能捕撈到的最后一些長須鯨。店里播放著背景音樂,是比莉·霍利戴演唱的《無悔》。記者以進行調查為名,搭配著芽苗菜和法式長面包狼吞虎咽地吃下四片薄薄的肉片,它們看上去和嘗起來都很像全熟的牛肉。

Scientific “research” was also the reason Japan’s government gave for continuing to kill whales in the vast Southern Ocean after a global moratorium on commercial whaling came into force in 1985. But international criticism along with environmental groups’ attempts to sabotage the annual hunt proved too costly to Japan’s reputation and purse (the government bankrolled the hunt). In late 2018 Japan declared it was giving up killing in the Southern Ocean, where the ?n whale on which Banyan snacked had been caught.

自1985年全球中止商業捕鯨之后,日本政府以科學研究為理由繼續在廣闊的南大洋捕殺鯨魚。但國際上的批評以及環保組織對年度捕鯨活動的阻撓對日本的聲譽和財力損耗過大(政府為捕鯨活動提供資金)。在2018年底,日本宣布停止在南大洋捕殺鯨魚。記者吃到的長須鯨肉就是在南大洋捕撈的。



This grim irony was borne out earlier this year. From Shimonoseki in western Japan, the state-owned whaling company, Kyodo Senpaku, sent out its two ships in search of their quota of Bryde’s whales. After fossicking for weeks, the vessels finally stumbled on some whales on the hunt’s last day. Regrettably, says the government’s pointman on whaling, Moronuki Hideki, the three animals killed were very thin. Was Mr Moronuki disappointed or embarrassed? “Both,” he replies.

這一諷刺之處在今年早些時候得到了證實。在日本西部的下關市,國有捕鯨公司船舶共同社派出了兩艘船,前去搜尋布氏鯨。搜尋了數周之后,在捕撈的最后一天,他們終于碰到了幾頭鯨魚。政府的捕鯨負責人諸貫秀樹遺憾地說,捕殺的三頭鯨魚都很瘦小。諸貫先生為此感到失望或尷尬嗎?“都有?!彼@樣回答道。

One obvious lesson is not to kill Bryde’s whales when, hungry after breeding, they are on their way north to their summer feeding grounds around the Sea of Okhotsk. Far better to get them, ?t and fat, on their way back in the autumn. Yet whaling, like much else in Japan, follows the logic of the fiscal year, which ends in March. Whalers had to spend their allocated ¥5bn ($46.5m) before then.

他們從中得到的一個教訓就是,布氏鯨在繁殖后很饑餓,會游往鄂霍次克海附近的夏季覓食處,這時不要捕殺它們。布氏鯨在秋季返回時又健康又肥美,是捕殺它們最好的時候。但是捕鯨業和日本的許多其他行業一樣,都按照財年運行,在三月截止。捕鯨人必須在那之前用完分配到的50億日元(合4650萬美元)。

The whaling lobby is powerful—Shimonoseki sits within the parliamentary district of the prime minister, Abe Shinzo. In the Southern Ocean the fleet counted on subsidies: commercial sales of meat were never enough to keep it a?oat. For now, the subsidies continue, supposedly to help ease the switch to nakedly commercial whaling. But, Mr Moronuki predicts, they will be gone in two or three years. Other fleets complain that whaling gets far more than its fair share of subsidies for fisheries.

捕鯨團隊勢力強大——下關市位于首相安倍晉三的選區內。在南大洋的捕鯨船隊要依靠政府補貼:鯨肉的商業銷售從來都不足以維持捕撈作業?,F在,政府仍然提供補助,來為在日本海域進行商業捕鯨的轉變提供緩沖。但諸貫先生預測,兩三年內,政府就不會提供補助了。另一些船隊抱怨說,在政府提供給漁業的補助中,捕鯨業所獲得的補助多得過分了。

Once the whalemen get to know Japanese waters better, hunting close to home will cut costs. Southern Ocean whaling was expensive. The fleet had to guard against saboteurs. And to maintain an air of research, vessels followed predetermined zigzag courses, taking nearly everything in their path. In future they can just steam out and make their kill.

一旦捕鯨人越來越了解日本海域,捕撈活動就會節省部分開支。在南大洋捕鯨開支很大。船隊必須值守,防止一些人阻撓捕撈活動。在未來,他們只需開動船只,進行捕殺。



As for the national fleet, perhaps it was just a piece of kabuki theatre to bring it back with such fanfare from the Southern Ocean. In reality, the prospects of the whales look slightly better than those of their predators.

而國家船隊或許就只像是一出歌舞伎戲劇,大張旗鼓地從南大洋返航。實際上,比起捕鯨者來說,鯨魚的未來看上去還要略微好些。