News / Asia

Australia, New Zealand Condemn Japanese Whaling Plans

Baird's Beaked whale butchered in Wada, Japan, June 2007 (file photo).
Baird's Beaked whale butchered in Wada, Japan, June 2007 (file photo).
Phil Mercer

Australia and New Zealand have condemned Japan’s decision to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean.

The annual hunt was curtailed last year because of clashes between whalers and conservationists. The Japanese say there are genuine scientific reasons for hunting whales, a position dismissed as ludicrous by officials in Canberra and Wellington.

"We say to Japan they do not need to do this. There is no justification for continued whaling," said Australian Agriculture Minister Tony Burke, who is urging Tokyo not to send its hunters to the Antarctic. "Australia unequivocally condemns commercial whaling. We don't accept that this is scientific, it should not go ahead.”

Canberra, which has close economic and diplomatic ties with Japan, likely won't risk damaging the relationship with an all-out diplomatic conflict. Officials have, however, made initial legal submissions to the International Court of Justice to try to stop what it calls "unnecessary slaughter." While senior officials have cautioned that legal action will move slowly, some analysts believe the best chance opponents of the annual hunt have is to win over the Japanese public.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully has said Japan is isolating itself from the rest of the world with its decision to resume whaling.

A robust Japanese lobby

Although whale consumption has been declining in Japan for years, the country’s pro-whaling lobby still retains significant political influence through nationalistic and historic arguments supporting the annual hunt.

Meanwhile, conservationists like Paul Watson** are preparing for another round of potentially dangerous confrontation with whalers. He says volunteers with his anti-whaling Sea Shepherd organization are prepared to risk their lives protecting whales. The group successfully forced the Japanese fleet to curtail activities last year, but this time around the whaling vessels will be better protected.

"We are going to find them. We are going to block their slipway and we will see what they are going to do," said Watson, who expects battles in the Southern Ocean to intensify. "Our tactics are always the same, which is that we are not going to hurt anybody, but we are certainly going to take the risks that are necessary to block them. That is the key to the whole thing; blocking their operation. If they cannot load whales, they cannot kill them."

Commercial whaling has been outlawed for 25 years, but Japan is allowed to catch about 1,000 whales each year in what Tokyo insists is a scientific research program.

Critics say it is commercial whaling in all but name.

The Japanese fleet sails to the Southern Ocean in the autumn each year, returning the following Spring.

**Mr. Watson's name was previously posted as Wilson in our text. VOA regrets the error.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs