As of this writing, two members of a militant anti-whaling group are still being held aboard a Japanese whaling vessel in the Antarctic. These activists boarded the Japanese ship illegally from an Australian conservation vessel. As more and more people and organizations become involved in the whaling conflict, the standoff continues. In my opinion, the politics involved here can be best summed up by a simple game of cards. Observe:
Australia draws the first card. Not surprisingly, it's the:
Cute Sea Creature Card
This adorable creature is considered by many (although not the Japanese, obviously) to remain an endangered species. Look at that face! She's looking right at you and she needs you to save her. You! Save the whales, save the world!!
But uh oh, what's that Japan's holding? It couldn't be. But it is. It's...
The Racism Card!
Yes, a Japanese pro-whaling video that is currently circling YouTube is calling racism. I have not actually watched this video (it apparently shows graphic images of Australians killing Kangaroos and Wallabies) but it is reported to state that:
"Australians must not use whales to justify the racist ideology...Australians have to eliminate prejudice and racism against the Japanese. Don't forget Cronulla race riots! These riots show the xenophobia and white supremacy. The next victims are the Japanese?"
While the whaler's calls of racism sound pretty far fetched, a British Newspaper has also reported that:
...Australia radio stations were flooded with angry calls (after the capture of the activists), some of which bordered on racism. "I worry for those two young men they have captured," said one woman caller to a Sydney radio station. "The Japanese didn't care about British and Australian troops during the war – look how they were treated – so there must be concerns for those young men on that whaling ship."
Few hands can beat the racism card.
That is, of course, unless you have...
The Terrorism Card!
Captain Paul Watson captain of the Sea Shepherd conservation vessel (which sent the captured activists on their original protest mission) has told various media outlets that: "Holding two hostages and demanding that the whaling protests stop before the men were handed over is nothing short of terrorism," and that: "When you hold hostages and make demands, that is the definition of a terrorist organization and that is the way they are acting."
The terrorism card is hard to beat. But wait, it's not over! One more card has come to the rescue, and it looks to be debunking the entire relevance of the Terrorism Card. It's...
The Piracy Card!
This bit's from the Associated Press
"It is completely illegal to board anyone's vessel ... on the high seas," said Glenn Inwood, a spokesman for Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research, which organizes the hunt. "So this can be seen as nothing more than an act of piracy by the Sea Shepherd group."
And it's backed up in this article too, as
And an Australian expert on international maritime law (says that)...
"The unauthorized boarding of any vessel on the high seas raises, in the current international security environment, significant issues. These actions could be viewed as a breach in the first instance of Japanese law, because it is a Japanese flagged whaling vessel that was boarded," Don Rothwell a professor at Canberra's Australian National University, claimed.
Rothwell said the whalers had acted within their rights to detain the activists.
"Any unauthorized boarding of a vessel under these circumstances gives to the master of the vessel a clear capacity to detain these persons to try to verify their intentions," Rothwell said. "Their detention is perfectly appropriate and reasonable, in much the same way as any person who uninvited entered anyone's home can be detained for effectively trespassing."
So Game Over, at least for now. Jack Sparrow wins.