When we make judgments about Japan's concern to increase whaling, we ought to remember the past stories as some of our kin have not been blameless and righteous in caring for animals and our environment.
I was searching for information about whaling in the Pacific but could not find any direct references to whaling in the Fiji area, though no doubt this was part of the story, together with the foreigners coming to Fiji to exploit the resources of sandalwood and beche-de-mer. Some of the crew of whalers most certainly found themselves shipwrecked in Fiji waters and were the ancestors of many Fiji nationals today.
Alan Moorehead's book The Fatal Impact, an account of the invasion of the South Pacific 1767-1840, was published in 1966 and has some stories about whaling.
Whalers came from Le Havre in France, Hull in England, New Bedford and Nantucket in America and the main whaling stations were in Hawaii, Tahiti, Bay of Islands in New Zealand, eastern coast of Australia at Sydney and the Derwent Estuary in Hobart. It is hard to believe that the whaling ships from Nantucket were owned by Quakers! Why? It was for the money as whale-oil was worth a lot. They could hardly justify their passion for whaling just to get corset -bones or umbrella spikes!
Conditions on board were appalling with minimal pay, rotten food, rats, cockroaches, continual dampness, sickness, danger and death. Perhaps a lad wanting adventure so signed up. Others wanted to escape a situation, even from the penal colonies in Australia. Melville referred to Australia when he wrote 'The whaleship is the true mother of that now mighty colony' saving settlers from starvation with the gift of ships biscuits! Omoo and of course Moby Dick reveal the sordidness of life on whaling ships.
Once the South Pacific was decimated of whales through the indiscriminate harpooning of males, females and young, the fisheries collapsed until about fifty years later when steam-driven whalers broke through the ice of Antarctica and the slaughter continued. By the 1930s up to 37,000 whales were killed every year.
It is only in very recent years that people have been concerned about a whale sanctuary and a moratorium on killing these beautiful creatures.