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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More