Why Not call me Ishmael

Toyota are a company that proudly claims to be committed to the environment - as you'll see in their 'Why Not' campaign in North America. (Link via Another Planning Blog). It's a cute commercial - I used to have own a Fiat Abarth that looked like it was rotting before my very eyes at, roughly, the same speed as the one in the commercial.

Oddly enough I was thinking about Toyota the other day. They are one of Japan's biggest and certainly most high profile companies and the number one car producer in Japan. Their hybrid cars are the highest profile.

But there's a problem with Japan. It wants to slaughter whales in the Southern Ocean

"Japan has declared that for the first time it will kill 50 humpbacks, as well as 50 fin whales and hundreds of minke whales. The Japanese argue that the ban on whale hunting means levels of fin and humpback whales have recovered and they can withstand being harpooned again." NZ Herald

The Japanese claim the whaling will be for 'scientific' purposes. I am not sure what value the hunt has ever delivered to science but any country that can make a robot play a violin must, surely be able to conjure something good out of environmental violence.

It is well known that the slaughtered whales are butchered and made commercially available for food. Not that the meat is popular in Japan. They can't get rid of the stuff.

Though commercial whaling has been banned since the 1980s to protect the animals from being hunted to extinction, Japan still brings in the world's largest catch from annual harvests of legal "scientific whaling." Research shows that whale meat has become readily available to Japanese consumers at specialty restaurants and gourmet grocery stores nationwide. Animal rights activists decry the practice as small-scale commercial whaling in disguise -- a charge Japanese officials reject.

Some opinion polls show that younger generations of Japanese are more interested in conservation than culinary delights. The price for whale meat in Japan has decreased in recent years -- falling to $12 a pound in 2004 compared with $15 a pound in 1999. Demand for whale meat has been anemic. Last year, the industry put 20 percent of its 4,000-ton haul into frozen surplus.

So the government and pro-whaling groups have pumped cash into the promotion of eating whale meat. The government is spending about $5 million a year on such campaigns, while groups of housewives and other organizations are sponsoring whale cooking classes and related seminars to stimulate the market, according to officials and industry sources. Washington Post

So, what is the connection?

Given the Japanese government's active desire to reintroduce commercial whaling - on the grounds of preserving their country's 'culinary tradition' some strategy, other than threatening to ram whaling vessels which will antagonise a section of the public (the Japanese cleverly introduced the Terrorist unspeak when referring to the environmental activists Sea Shepard who threatened to give the whaler Nisshin Maru 'a steel enema' perhaps a different kind of action should be taken. New Zealand and Australia are leading opponents to the Japanese on the International Whaling Commission but official influence only goes so far.

I suggest a campaign directed at Toyota. Boycott all new Toyota cars, including the hybrids. Let Toyota know they have been symbolically singled out as a leader. If they don't use their influence with Japanese legislators and consumers then their message is simply hollow posing, priapismic promotion. It might sound unfair - but has the US blockade of Cuba - in place since 1962 - been fair on the citizens of that country?

Go on. Have a non-violent whale of a time. Feel free to target any other Japanese brands.

Non consumption as force for social change.


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