(MOT - Most OT) Australia - Live lobster arcade game

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This is my submission for the most 'OT' post this week in the Y2K.

The live crayfish (lobster) in this article come from my region. The SAFCO mentioned is the South Australian Fish Company. This mob wants to stop all recreational rock lobster fishing to have more fish for the Japanese market where they play games with them.


Live lobster arcade game in hot water
Source: AFP
Published: Wednesday February 16, 1:34 PM


Live lobsters are being used in the latest Japanese arcade game which challenges players to pick them out of a tank using a remote-controlled crane.

The game, a new twist on the traditional lucky dip offerings of cuddly toys and cheap watches, has outraged animal rights activists who say it amounts to torture of the crustaceans.

Winners of the Marine Catcher game, developed by SAFCO, take the lobsters home to eat.

'I never imagined we would get protests when we developed the game,' said SAFCO president Shuji Fuchigami, who claimed to have sold 30 of the machines around Japan with another 70 on order.

'I thought people would enjoy it.'

Fuchigami said he would consider halting production of the game if the torture complaints mounted.

But he added, 'I have had three phone calls today encouraging me not to stop. They said it was the same as fishing.'

In the game, about a dozen live lobsters crawl around the bottom of a large glass tank.

Players pay 200 yen ($A2.85) for the chance to catch them with a small crane equipped with a grabbing hand. They use buttons outside the tank to control its movements.

'I tried three times before and I finally got a lobster last time,' said 20-year-old student Keita Fukuhara, at the Omoron arcade game centre in northern Tokyo.

But Fukuhara was less fortunate in his latest efforts when he failed to get any of the lobsters, each of which would cost Y3,000 ($A43.83)-Y5,000 ($A73) at a fresh food market.

'I feel a bit sorry for the lobsters,' he added. 'But I think this is just a game, not torture.'

Minoru Tomitake, a 54-year-old shoe shop owner, said he found the game challenging.

'It is very hard to get the lobsters in the tank because they are alive and they know how to run away,' he told AFP. 'I have never got lucky in this game. I think the person who created this game had good sense.'

And Satoshi Yamashita, a part time worker at the game arcade, defended the attraction.

'We think it is the same as fishing, not torture,' he said. 'We change the water of the tank once a week and feed them. I think we treat them the right way.'

It was popular with families, he said, adding: 'I have never counted but three or four lobsters are caught by players in a day.'

The Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it had sent protest lettters to SAFCO and to individual arcade centres stocking the Marine Catcher game.

'We think this is amounts to mistreatment of small creatures,' said the society's general affairs manager, Isao Yoshino.

'The game puts great pressure on lobsters every day, it is mistreatment.

'A game like this makes light of living creatures and is a bad influence on children.'

Some arcade customers agreed.

Shouki Aida, 19-year-old said, said, 'I feel very sorry for those lobsters. I cannot understand how they can make such a game. I don't think they should do this to living things.

'This tortures the lobsters,' he said. 'I wouldn't want to eat one of them.'

The head of SAFCO, which is based in western Japan's Sasebo, said it was not required to receive restaurant licencing because it placed notices on the tanks warning customers against eating the lobsters raw.


A submission is being readied on recreational crayfishing for members of parliament in South Australia. There are 300,000 recreational fishers here who face a campaign by the internationally focussed exporters of rock lobster to limit or stop recreational use of this resource. Your comments are welcome on this thread, which I'll print off to enclose with the submission material. As you can see recreational fishing is well in Japan.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 16, 2000


Seems I recall seeing a story awhile back about some recreational fishing in Japan where the anglers basically fished in small pools stocked with live fish. The retired folks would spend the entire day there.

The lobster "fishing" seems to give the lobsters even a more unfair advantage. Of course, live lobsters are sold in the US in tanks too. But the act of using a crane to get dinner does seem a bit insensitive.

If children are allowed to play such a "game" it really doesn't teach compassion for God's living creatures. There seems to be a line blurring in such a situation. This practice is sending the wrong message to Japan's youth.

-- Lurkess (Lurkess@Lurking.XNet), February 16, 2000.

Sounds like fun to me.

A Phillistine,


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), February 16, 2000.

Eating creatures to sustain our lives is one thing, but this is twisted. I wish I had an email for the Japanese place. It's very disrespectful of life and therefore unBuddhist if they are Buddhist.

-- Mara (MaraWayne@aol.com), February 16, 2000.

Insensitve to animals? Lurkess, it's really much worse than that. Have ye watched a Japanese video game lately? How about Cruisin USA or Cruisin World where the young lads are encouraged to "rip it up" road warrior style as they off road it thru the vast oz outback, ramming into the odd roo which bounces regularly into their path. The poor joey is instantly turned into a "steak" on the screen, literally. I don't mean a pile of roadkill madam, I mean a juicy t- bone steak. Now, I wonder how that would go over in Japan if instead of a kangaroo, it were a sacred dancing crane of the orient? There is little love lost for animals (or women for that matter) in these games. The object primarily is barbarian heart ripping, beheadings and kick boxing. And now they give us this: "Look daddy, the lobster just had his claw pulled off!" And yes, folks, I love a crustacean with butter, a bucket of mussels steamed, but this is just more $$$$ madness from the mind of minolta if ye read me. Pieter, what can I say mate. Tis a brave new world dis-order...

-- William Wallace (braveheart@highlands.com), February 16, 2000.

In the fall of last year there was a very popular Chinese restaurant in Irvine, CA that installed one of these lobster arcades. People were lined-up to take a shot at grabbing a lobster and the kids especially loved it. Then, some animal rights activists set-up a formal protest and the whole thing came out in the press. What was interesting about this incident was the overwhelming backlash AGAINST the righteous activists. I love animals but I draw the line when it comes to friggin lobsters, OK. The holier than thous were sent packing and the restaurant got more publicity than big bucks could ever buy.

-- Sifting (through@the.rubble), February 16, 2000.


I have to agree with you - the mindset can quickly switch to other "things". Just imagine, today's cry of "It's only an animal!" could someday be switched to "It's only a !" Later... Remember your history all - when the Romans used to feed the Christians to the lions? Well, we're walking down the same path again, with that kind of thinking...

Stewardship doesn't allow one to abuse, or to use for one's "amusement". They can feel pain, please remember that and consider how you'd like to be treated.

Truth and compassion are what keeps this world sane. Will you contribute or work against that?

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), February 16, 2000.

Thanks everyone for a range of replies to this article.

The situation locally, in South Australia, is that a lobby by SAFCO wants to limit recreational fishing for rock lobster to improve the live export business. This lobby is powerful and appears to care only for the dollar.

I personally view the Japanese presentation of our lobster like this with distaste. A degree of callousness from SAFCO apparently mirrors the small regard we, as a society, show all creatures. Life's but an arcade game prop.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), February 16, 2000.

At least they're not piloting little motorized boats which drop tiny depth charges onto the lobsters. But that would be interesting to watch...

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), February 16, 2000.

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