There are five things you need to understand if you want to know how to end Japan’s whaling and dolphin hunt permanently and decisively: economy, tourism, nationalism, Shinto and Bushido. Ergo, there are five associated strategies to address them.
Japan’s economy is essentially the third largest in the world depending on which criteria is used. It’s also the world’s most innovative country when using filed industry patents as the benchmark. As of 2013, 62 of Fortune’s Global 500 companies were Japanese. Some of the world’s biggest, most valuable, most visible and most profitable brands are Japanese. Look at this list: Asics, Bridgestone, Canon, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Honda, Kikkoman, Komatsu, Konica, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nikon, Nintendo, Nissan, Olympus, Panasonic, Ricoh, Sharp, Shimano, Sony, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota. Money talks – bullshit walks. If you want to see any decisive traction in global interest animal, ethical or environmental issues you absolutely must include these brands in an integrated strategy.
Japan’s tourism industry is consistently growing; it’s a dominant force in their economy. One need only briefly review the 100 Landscapes of Japan or the major tourist destinations to see why. Organizing coordinated protests and online actions directed at the Japanese tourism industry will have immediate and lasting results.
There’s an intense history of devoted nationalism where the priority is national welfare not private interests. And this is particularly true when defending Japan from foreign interests. Japanese nationalism is not only about supporting the state but also supporting the interests of the Japanese people. So regardless of what some might consider “wrong”, the tendency is to support other Japanese. Western activist groups like Sea Shepherd fail to understand the Japanese character and continue to offend sensibilities of even moderate Japanese citizens because they are “Gaijin” or foreign dogs whose presence is undesirable regardless of motive or good intentions.
Shinto is the Japanese touchstone for their place in the universe; at once an informal religion, cosmology and modern connection to the past that dominates the thoughts and behaviors of more than 80% of the population. Two important facets to Shinto are purity and guilt. Kegare has to do with the evil of death as an impurity. In Shinto, rather than being considered “wrong”, certain deeds offend a person’s peace of mind and good fortune: Kegare are these impure deeds. Beings who are killed ungraciously become vengeful spirits against the offenders. This belief is powerful, no self-respecting Japanese person would willingly invite the wrath of the evil Kami spirits. Everything to do with death is a source of impurity. A family’s Kami spirits are protected as much as possible from any such impurity. Imi is the avoidance or taboo of certain acts – including killing – that harm the environment or other living things, all of which should be avoided. When they can’t be avoided, purification rituals are performed to prevent the Kami spirits in the area from seeking vengeance against the offender.
The importance of loyalty, honor and shame from the age-old traditions of the Samurai warrior are deeply embedded in the Japanese psyche. To be publicly disgraced or ridiculed is a most powerful fear in Japanese society. To be publicly scorned or laughed has driven some to commit ritual suicide as a matter of obligation to protect one’s family. Japanese have a vivid collective awareness of personal dignity; and the flipside of this is a fear of disgrace so powerful it hangs like a sword over every person’s neck. Understanding the weight of honor and shame in everyday life is key to communicating urgent and critical issues; whether animal, social or environmental.
Successful Japanese Strategies:
- Economy: Go after the money. Big brands are able to effectively lobby the government and have immense leverage with the powerful people who create, alter and support legislation.
- Tourism: Include significant industries in your action.
- Nationalism: Appeal to moderates. They are the people on the ground who may not directly support the cause. Maybe they don’t care about whales and dolphins but THEY DO care about what’s best for Japan and the Japanese people. Don’t be a dumbass foreign devil. Be sensitive to the culture you’re addressing.
- Shinto: Killing any being or harming the environment are impure deeds that invite the wrath of evil spirits.
- Bushido: Appeal to honor and shame. It is a formidable threat of public disgrace to be associated with the destruction of the environment or the killing of sentient species. On the upside one could achieve great honor by protecting animals and the environment.