Greenpeace Australia Pacific BLOG

Japan to defy UN court and continue whaling

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Junichi Sato

Late Departure of Japanese Whaling Ship

There has been disappointing and worrying news today. The Government of Japan has announced that it intends to return to the Southern Ocean to hunt whales in 2015. It has also officially announced that it will again send its factory whaling ship to hunt whales in the North Pacific, although it plans to target fewer whales.

The announcement confirms that although no sperm whales will be targeted, Minke, Bryde’s and endangered Sei whales will be targeted in the North Pacific in the coming weeks. This news comes just weeks after this year’s Antarctic whale hunt was cancelled, following a March ruling by the UN’s International Court of Justice that it was illegal.

Japanese Whaling Fleet and Greenpeace Inflatables

That ruling clearly confirmed that so-called ‘scientific research’ whaling in the Southern Ocean was being done for commercial purposes. The judgment led to an urgent review of whaling plans by the Government of Japan, in the midst of international criticism, as well as some internal political pressure.

There have been other significant developments too: Japanese internet giant Rakuten announced it would stop selling whale meat after a campaign by our colleagues EIA, and shipments of endangered fin whale meat en route to Japan have been exposed, blocked, and challenged by Greenpeace in Europe, Africa, and Canada.

Recent media reports from Japan suggest there has been a frantic debate inside the Japanese government. The Government of Japan had already stated that the court case, despite focusing solely on Antarctic whaling, would have ramifications for the North Pacific hunt too. Today’s confirmation to carry on whaling comes just days before President Obama’s much-anticipated visit to Japan. It will surely cast a cloud on his conversations with Prime Minister Abe.

Man handles a pallet of boxes coming off the Nishin Maru, a ship operated by a private organization set up by Japan’s whaling industry and subsidized by the Fisheries Agency of Japan.

Man handles a pallet of boxes coming off the Nishin Maru, a ship operated by a private organization set up by Japan’s whaling industry and subsidized by the Fisheries Agency of Japan.

It’s a frustrating time for those of us campaigning to end commercial whaling. The decision to go ahead with these hunts will draw more international criticism for the Government of Japan, and surely raise questions inside Japan as to why so much political effort goes into keeping this dying industry alive.

This is an industry that should simply be consigned to the past, as stockpiles of unwanted whale meat and rapidly diminishing demand clearly show.

The international focus on continued commercial whaling on the high seas has stymied real international progress on whale conservation. Recent reports have shown that some whale species haven’t yet recovered from commercial whaling in the last century. That’s worrying when we consider all of the other threats, from climate change to ship strikes, that face the world’s whales today.

It’s clear that ‘scientific’ whaling as it has been carried out for many years cannot continue. Now Japan has a chance to stop these whaling expeditions for good. Carrying on as usual might well result in more damaging legal challenges undermining Japan’s international reputation. It’s too bad. The international community reacted so warmly to Japan’s seeming acceptance of the court judgment.

Slide2-600x450The UN court ruling, coupled with international criticism and plummeting demand for whale meat in Japan should give Japan an opportunity to end its whaling expeditions for good. Commercial whaling is simply not needed in modern Japan. Ending it might not be politically easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

Let’s all keep up the positive pressure to make sure it happens.

 

Blog post by: Junichi Sato
All blogposts by Junichi Sato
  • Sia

    I dont understand why Japan woud neef to kill any more whale for research if Theo have already and plan to kill hundreds one whale is enough to research one for more then one teat and i think Theo have done more then enough whaleing for ever to have justify whaleing research

    • Sia

      **Sorry for the word prediction, but you get the idea..