Japanese tourists say no to whaling
By MEGAN KINNINMENT
JAPANESE tourist Kazuwu Ki Okamoto, pictured with wife Fumi, would rather be watching whales than eating them.
However, whale conservationists predict Mr Okamoto may never see a humpback whale again if his Government is successful in its push to resume commercial whaling.
The International Whaling Commission meets in Korea today to vote on Japan's bid to increase its quota of whales to include humpbacks, killed in the name of scientific research.
Australia is among 63 countries represented at the hearing and joins other anti-whaling nations in the fight to block Japan's plans.
Meanwhile Australia's lucrative whale-watching industry, estimated to be worth $300 million, also hangs in the balance.
At Cape Byron Lighthouse on Friday, Gold Coast-based Seavane Tour guide Hiroshi Matsuda said whale-watching from the cape was the first stop on his North Coast tour and he, too, would fight Japan's push to resume whaling.
"But Japan has been eating whale meat for centuries. It is a cultural tradition," he said.
Of the Japanese tourists Mr Matsuda guides up to the cape every morning during the whale season it is the older generation who are more likely to support the resumption of commercial whaling.
"I used to eat whale in school lunches," Eiko Takahashi, holidaying in Australia with her daughter, said.
"For my generation it is pretty normal."
Anti-whaling campaigners' hopes lie with the younger generation of Japanese, such as the Okamotos, to whom the idea of commercial whaling is abhorrent.