New research reveals true cost of Japanese whaling

New research reveals true cost of Japanese whaling
Tuesday, 5 February, 2013
Tokyo, Japan

In a report published today, The Economics of Japanese Whaling, IFAW shows how the Japanese government even diverted tsunami relief funds to support whaling. Annual government subsidies for Japanese whaling average around 782 million yen (US $9.78m), but in 2011 this increased by around 2.28 billion yen (US $28.55m).

The new report, prepared following a year-long research effort conducted by leading Japan-based agencies commissioned by IFAW, provides the clearest picture ever of the failing whaling industry based largely on the government of Japan’s own data, never before presented in this way, inside or outside Japan.

While the findings demonstrate that whaling is unprofitable and catering to an increasingly shrinking and ageing market, whale watching is, by contrast, a growth industry.

Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW’s Global Whale Programme, said: “Here it is, for the first time, in black and white. IFAW’s report proves conclusively that Japan’s cruel whaling industry is dying in the water while Japanese taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill. This cruel, outmoded industry is in the red. Whaling is an economic loser.

“Now is the time for concerned citizens, NGOs and governments around the world to stop bludgeoning the good people of Japan and start helping them migrate from whaling to whale watching – a profitable solution that benefits whales, people and coastal communities in Japan and around the world.”

Whale watching is worth around US $2.1 billion annually. In Japan alone, whale watching generated around US $22 million in 2008. There are currently around 30 whale watching operators working from a dozen locations around the Japanese coast.

The country’s whaling fleet left port in December for Antarctica to train its harpoons on around 1,000 whales, in defiance of global opposition and several international laws.

Japan hunts whales for so-called science despite a worldwide ban on commercial whaling. IFAW believes Japan’s whaling produces sham science and is merely commercial whaling by another name.

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary; scientists agree there is simply no humane way to kill a whale. This is proved by footage of Japanese whaling which has shown whales taking more than half an hour to die. In addition, much of the meat is merely stockpiled or sold cheaply to schools and hospitals.

For more information or interviews please contact Clare Sterling in Tokyo on +44 (0)7917 507717 or email

A recent IFAW blog about this issue can be found here.

Preview low-res images and video can be found at

Notes to Editors:

‘The Economics of Japanese Whaling’ can be viewed and downloaded from IFAW’s website,

High resolution hand-out images available for download by signing up at

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Clare Sterling, Tokyo
Contact phone:
+44(0) 791 750 7717
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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation