Business, Economics and Jobs

Japan's caved and said it will stop selling whale meat


Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten's logo in Tokyo, March 18, 2014.


Kazuhiro Nogi

It's always nice when people get together and make themselves heard. It's even nicer when other people listen.

Not a month ago, Rakuten, Japan's, earned the title as the world's leading online trader of elephant ivory and whale products, thanks to a report by an influential UK NGO called Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The report was widely covered by media and an internet campaign ensued vilifying Rakuten for its 28,000 ads for elephant ivory and 1,200 for whale meat.

This week, in a move that surprised even EIA, Rakuten said OK, you win, we'll stop selling whale-meat products.

"We issued a notice to all stores on April 1, asking them to stop sales of whale-meat products by the end of the month," a Rakuten spokeswoman said.


"We made the decision ... following the ruling by the International Court of Justice and a subsequent comment by the Japanese government that it will obey the ruling," the spokeswoman added.

She's referring to Japan's decision this week to cancel its Antarctic whaling hunt for the first time in 25 years. That decision came after the UN's International Court of Justice condemned the practice.

Rakuten's move to ban whale-meat products goes beyond that ruling, which didn't put an outright end to all of Japan's whaling efforts, but singled out the Antarctic program as a "commercial activity disguised as science."

Theoretically, that judgment doesn't affect Japan's coastal whaling program or in the one in the north Pacific.

Rakuten said it notified the 42,000 online shops that operate on under their digital umbrella.

A search of the site Friday turned up about 700 listings for whale meat.

Now about that ivory.