Let me be clear about my view of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I admire the bravery and strength of purpose these people demonstrate in their efforts to interfere with the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. Their crews risk their lives on that cold and dangerous ocean at the bottom of the world.
However, this tragedy is not about the slaughter of a thousand whales each year off Antarctica, and Sea Shepherd’s ability to save some of them. It has devolved into what the Japanese government and people see as an imperialistic assault upon their culture—an insult to the entire population because of a few die-hard old men caught up in the ways of the past.
Sea Shepherd's actions only serve to widen Japan’s sense of isolation from the rest of the world: a cultural remoteness formed over two millennia that will not be bridged by acts of aggression. Author Richard D. Lewis, in his book, “The Cultural Imperative: Global Trends in the 21st Century,” points out that in any interaction with the Japanese, “What is said is actually of minor importance. How it is said, who says it, and when it is said are the vital ingredients.”
Accordingly, the only way to get Japan to stop the Southern Ocean whale hunt is by allowing them to save face, and that is exactly what the proposal being presented to the IWC in June by the U.S. and other anti-whaling nations will do. As good as Sea Shepherd’s intentions may be, their continued attack on Japan’s whaling fleet has jeopardized this compromise, which will mean that the annual slaughter will continue for many years to come. Now is not the time for confrontation; it is the time for cool heads and calm negotiations. Otherwise all hope is lost.