Degree Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environmental Studies

Advisor(s)

Janet Fiskio
Ann Sherif
Swapna Pathak

Keywords

Bluefin tuna, Japan, National identity, Cuisine, Japanese cuisine, Fishing, Oma, Ipponzuri, Media censorship, Public perception, Endangered, Culinary nationalism

Abstract

The Japanese media has perpetually glorified Bluefin tuna as the symbol of Japanese culture, cuisine, and national identity. Meanwhile, Bluefin tuna stocks are plummeting due to overfishing, and some species are international recognized as endangered. Blame is primarily placed on Japan, as the nation consumes 80% of Bluefin in the world and the government has admitted to overfishing several times. This has led to international environmental organizations and Western governments continually criticizing Japan for its unsustainable fishing practices.

This paper provides an explanation as to why there is no domestic movement within Japan to put an end to overfishing: the Japanese media. The Japanese media glorifies Bluefin tuna fishing and consumption, while neglecting both domestic and international criticisms of the fishing industry. By erasing the environmental discourse and presenting Bluefin only as a celebratory and culturally symbolic fish, the Japanese public remains widely unaware of depleted stocks. Furthermore, there is no academic consensus within Japan concerning the stock status of Bluefin tuna, regardless of international scientific consensus that they are endangered. With little awareness of the issue and difficulty in accessing unbiased information, a domestic anti-overfishing movement is unlikely to occur.

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