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Opinion Poll on Research Whaling

Publication - 18 February, 2008

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Executive summary:

Greenpeace Japan has commissioned Nippon Research Center, Ltd, a member of Gallup International Association, to undertake an opinion poll on whaling in Japan.

Respondents were randomly selected from internet panels registered with the center. (The center maintains pre-recruited panels of Internet users available to be interviewed for specific projects.)

The poll contacted 1,051 people, aged 15 to 60, and asked 18 questions about whaling.

They found that 31% were in favour of whaling, 25% were against and that 44% were neither for nor against. When the results were analysed according to age and gender, women and younger people were more likely to oppose whaling, with the majority of women aged 15 to 39 opposed.

The poll repeated questions asked in the same way in 2006. This table shows the results for both polls.

Year 2006 2008
Favoured whaling 35% 31%
Opposed whaling 26% 25%
No opinion 39% 44%

The poll also gave people 4 choices:

1. Japan should whale in the high seas as well as along the Japanese coast.

2. Japan should whale along the Japanese coast but not in the high seas.

3. Japan should whale in the high seas but not along the Japanese coast.

4. Japan should discontinue whaling.

The results were


1. High seas & Japan 21%
2. Japan only 45%
3. High seas only 3%
4. Stop 26%
5. Other 5%

Thus 71% of respondents supported an end to whaling on the high seas (either by stopping all whaling or by just stopping high seas whaling).

The center further analysed the responses and found that among those who had said they were neither for nor against whaling, over 80% disagreed with whaling on the high seas. Even among those respondents who said they supported whaling, almost 40% disagreed with whaling on the high seas. When the same question was asked in 2006, 69% wanted an end to whaling on the high seas.

Questions about whaling in general produced responses suggesting that the average person in Japan has little idea of what the government of Japan does in their name.

When asked if they knew that whale meat obtained as a result of the research is sold in Japan, 40% said they did not.

When asked if they knew that the Japanese government hunts whales for scientific purposes, despite requests from the IWC to limit research to non-lethal methods only, 45% said they did not know.

When asked if they knew that the Japanese government announced a halt to hunting for humpback whales in the Antarctic Ocean, over 80% said they did not know.

When asked if they knew that Japan hunts over 900 whales, including 50 of an endangered species within the Antarctic Ocean whale sanctuary, 85% said they did not know.

When asked if they knew that the Japanese government subsidises research whaling with about 500 million yen ($US 4.7 million) annually, 87% said they did not know.

The picture revealed by these answers is very different from the image Of Japan as a nation that largely supports whaling. It shows that the largest category comprises those with no opinion about whaling and little knowledge of what their government is doing on their behalf. Among those with an opinion there is only a thin majority who support whaling. And a striking majority of over 70% of Japanese people oppose whaling on the high seas, even those who are neither for nor against whaling.

To see the full poll results, click on the link below.

Num. pages: 33