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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs