An article in today’s New York Times highlights the need for cultural sensitivity on the part of those who engage in cross cultural negotiations. According to the article, Japan’s “research” whaling program has lost most of its public support and only creates a few hundred jobs. But there’s a major problem to backing off of whaling: As long as whaling activists force Japan into an “us versus them” posture, the government cannot take any other position but to oppose change. The article states:
Mr. Kodaira [a legislator who leads the group that asserts it will maintain whaling] said he recognized that Japan’s whaling industry had shrunk to just a few hundred jobs, mostly paid for by the government. However, he said that the recent aggressive actions of foreign environmental groups like the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has clashed with Japanese whaling ships near the Antarctic, had fanned popular ire, making it impossible for Tokyo to compromise now.
“We can’t change now because it would look like giving in,” said Mr. Kodaira, a lawmaker from the northern island of Hokkaido. “Will we have to give up tuna next?”
Just like most countries, “Japan doesn’t like being told what to do,” said Isao Kondo, 83 [a retiree in a village that has traditionally engaged in whaling].
Think about it! Sometimes getting one’s way really does depend on being able to see the other side and to meet those needs!
Published: May 15, 2010
Some in Japan criticize Antarctic hunts, which they say invite international criticism that threatens the more limited coastal hunts.