The Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network (IKAN) is working to promote cetacean conservation by creating and implementing effective public education methodologies, disseminating unbiased information and disclosing government misinformation.
IKAN is a small Japanese organisation run by campaigner, Nanami Kurasawa and a handful of committed volunteers. Japan is one of the biggest seafood consumers globally. It is also one of several nations (alongside countries such as Norway and Iceland) still hunting whales on a large scale in the Southern Ocean, and conducting coastal hunts for smaller cetaceans including whales, dolphins and porpoises. The government and commercial whaling companies frame groups like IKAN as ‘outsiders’ who are trying to change ‘Japanese culture’ to defend their activities. Whilst coastal whaling is a part of Japanese culture to an extent in some areas, large Antarctic hunting expeditions only got going after World War II, encouraged by the US Navy as a solution to Japan’s hunger problems.
IKAN has been working for a better relationship between wildlife, especially marine mammals, and humans since 1996. Is takes a unique approach: as a local organisation, it is able to work with Japanese communities, using education and thoughtful media strategies to dispel the myth that whaling is part of Japanese culture. Ultimately, they hope to help people connect with cetaceans and engage in their conservation. At the same time, IKAN works with other NGOs to change hunting policy locally and nationally, as well as to ensure that broader policies also consider impacts on these mammals.
Through our relationship with IKAN we are learning not only how to address issues such as whale and dolphin hunting, but also more broadly how we might influence destructive consumption patterns in a bottom-up and long-lasting way across diverse cultures.
Click here to read about Japan’s relationship with whaling, featuring an interview with Junko Sakuma, one of IKAN’s researchers.
Synchronicity Earth has supported IKAN since 2001 – originally through Synchronicity Foundation and now through Synchronicity Earth.