Japanese politicians are not known for choosing their words carefully when speaking in public. Last month we had the “birth-giving machines” scandal involving the Health Minister.

Speaking about the problem that is Japan’s declining birth rate, the minister said “Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head”.

Well, I’m sure that will encourage women to make some more.

Today’s demonstration of how to promote the idea that all Japanese politicians are unaware that human beings actually have value beyond their ability to build televisions, comes from the Education Minister.

Education minister slammed for comparing human rights to fatty butter:
“Education minister slammed for comparing human rights to fatty butter

An advocacy group slammed Japan’s education minister on Tuesday for comparing human rights to fatty butter and saying too much would give Japan ‘human rights metabolic syndrome.’

‘No matter how nutritious it is, if one ate only butter every single day, one would get metabolic syndrome,’ Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki reportedly said at a speech in south Japan on Sunday. ‘Human rights are important, but if we respect them too much, Japanese society will end up having human rights metabolic syndrome.'”

I suppose this shouldn’t be all that surprising in a country that not only still has the death penalty, but has actually been making increased use of it since 2000. The number of people killed by the Japanese state in this way reached 100 last week.

Nobody has the right to take another person’s life.

Still, in a country where human rights are considered as good for the nation’s health as fatty butter, it’s hardly surprising that Japan remains a fan of this unjust form of ‘justice’.

In other news, the Japanese whaling fleet has called an end to the whaling season and is heading back home. Not that this is any gesture of goodwill on their part – it’s the result of an engine fire that crippled their one whale-carcass processing ship, the Nisshin Maru. A ship that, by drifting for several days around the Ross sea posed a considerable threat to the environment: a fuel leak would have spelled disaster for one of the most pristine areas on the planet.

“New Zealand’s Conservation Minister Chris Carter said he had spoken to the Japanese authorities about the need for urgent action, calling the ship “dead in the water”.

He pointed out that the ship is just 60 miles (100 km) from the world’s biggest Adelie penguin colony at Cape Adare.

“It is imperative the Nisshin Maru is towed further away from the pristine Antarctic coast, the neighbouring penguin colony and the perilous ice floes,” he told reporters.

Mr Carter said the most immediate solution was to use the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, a converted Soviet tug, or a US icebreaker.

Greenpeace urged Japan to accept its offer. “This is not a time to play politics from behind a desk in Tokyo,” said Karli Thomas, from on board the Esperanza. [BBC]

Mind you, having seen how little respect they have for their own environment, it’s hardly surprising they couldn’t care about some big block of ice down south.