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Japan's new government stands by whaling, not eager for bout with Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd crew members are blasted by water cannons from the Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru No. 1 as the Sea Shepherd helicopter flies alongside during last year's campaign against the Japanese effort.

Japan's new government this week urged Australia to help thwart the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's effort against whaling and at the same time implied that it supports the nation's longstanding tradition of hunting whales.

The conversation Tuesday at the United Nations was between Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, who was appointed last week after Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama was sworn into office, and Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith.

As one might expect, Smith answered that he'd like to resolve the issue through dialogue without straining relations. That could be construed to mean Australia, which is a whale-friendly nation, will not physically prevent Sea Shepherd from using Australia as a base for pursuing Japanese whaling vessels into Antarctic hunting grounds this winter (their summer).

If in fact Japan's new government supports the annual slaughter of about 1,000 minke whales -- that was Smith's perception -- it comes as distressing news to environmental groups around the world. The hunt is carried out within a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium against whaling. The loophole allows whales to be killed for research purposes, but whale meat is sold commercially.

Though few outside of Japan believe lethal research is necessary or legitimate, Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research has posted some scientific findings on its website.

Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd is promising a stepped-up effort this season under the campaign slogan "Operation Waltzing Matilda." An Animal Planet crew will  be aboard filming for a third season of the popular series, "Whale Wars." 

Last year's record-setting series included dramatic footage of whale kills, vessel-ramming and tense confrontational measures and countermeasures. Surely, Sea Shepherd Capt. Paul Watson will be expected to provide more theatrics this time around.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Sea Shepherd crew members are blasted by water cannons from the Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru No. 1 as the Sea Shepherd helicopter flies alongside during last year's campaign against the Japanese effort. Credit: Stephen Roest / Sea Shepherd

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Comments (26)

Japan say part of there CULTURE, wow, two hundred years steel ships motors , JAPAN, LIE ,STEAL, AND DROP BOMBS ON US.

Has everyone forgotten that Captain Paul Watson was shot in the chest by a Jap sniper aboard the whale slaughter-ship last year? He was only saved because he happened to be wearing a kevlar vest at the time. So who are the terrorists now, those who want to save lives or those who want to kill?

It's time we stopped this massacre for good. No one needs to kill whales to survive. One elderly Japanese gentleman said that eating whale meat is NOT 'culture' or 'tradition' at all. People were forced to eat it just after WW2 because there was no food at the time. This is the 21st century and this type of mass slaughter of cetaceans should be relegated to the blood soaked pages of an ignorant history where it belongs.

Why doesn't the Australian government physically prevent the Jap slaughter ship from its illegal whaling activities in the Australian Whale Sanctuary? They are as conservative as the last do-nothing government.

Brian, Whales are big animals compared to Chickens. This introduces a trade off. In order to produce the same amount of meat as can be obtained from an average minke whale, how many chickens do you think you need to kill? How long will it take for you to kill them all? Is it really better to kill hundreds of animals when one will do? Is it really barbaric to kill lots of small animals instead of one bigger one?

Pentti, I don't see why the food industry breeding animals is supposed to justify it any more than whaling can be? Of course whales are wild animals and ecologically important, but the whaling that I support is conservative sustainable whaling that involves the harvesting of nature's surplus, or less. And if we care about ecology we should surely think about the damage done by land-based animal farming methods. One could equally suggest that farming animals is as unnecessary as whaling, and that it only continues due to traditions. So if we are to tell the whalers to stop eating whales, we ought to put our money where our mouth is and stop eating farm animals first.

Kaitlyn, Yes I know a bit about fisheries management science and I'm certain Japan's whale harvests are collecting data that is relevant to the type of science that they are interested in. I don't know why you think their research activities would result in extinction of any whale species. You claim that the whale populations aren't being monitored, but there is no basis for that. I would suggest to you that your real problem with it is that the reason they want to study them is because they want to have the appropriate knowledge to use them as food resources in the future. Indeed there is no accurate count of minke whales, but accurate counts are not needed for sustainable marine resource management. The uncertainty requires that catch quotas be accordingly low so as to ensure that we are certain that such conservative levels of catch are safe. It is through population research that the Japanese hope to reduce the uncertainty and thus make possible higher levels of harvest without increasing the risks of jeopardizing the status of the populations. As you are in university I encourage you to talk with your educators about stock assessment methodologies. If you then take a look at the research being conducted it may become clear. With respect to the IWC, read about the Revised Management Procedure to understand the way it will work for whales.

"If they kill a single person on the japanese vesals then, due to a treaty between the U.S. and Japan, the U.S. pacific fleet is required to sink them and put any survivors on trial for acts of piracy on the high seas."


Why do whale killing supporters always have their facts so mixed up?

For more about the conviction and sentencing of Sea Shepherd in Canada last month see:


Here's a quote from Judge Jean Whalen:
“Their behaviour was so egregious it caused seasoned veterans of the sea to fear for their lives,” said Whalen. “No one is saying that the Sea Shepherd Society and its members cannot lawfully protest the seal hunt — they have every right to do that — but they do not have the right to flagrantly ignore the laws of this sovereign nation or endanger the lives of its citizens who are lawfully engaged in earning a living.”

For a more revealing look at Watsons motives, check out this youtube video:


The Sea Shepereds are nothing more than a rouge group of vigalante pirates. They must be VARY careful. If they kill a single person on the japanese vesals then, due to a treaty between the U.S. and Japan, the U.S. pacific fleet is required to sink them and put any survivors on trial for acts of piracy on the high seas. I still dont agree with japan of the sherperds. they BOTH need to step back and take a long look at what they are doing. E-mail me if you want to continue this conversation...

Thanks to animal planet most now know of the good work being done by the SSCS using direct action tactics to prevent the ongoing ecological holocaust. I would like to add that there are other groups doing just as good work in sometimes more dangerous situations.

The Virunga rangers in the Congo have been risking it all for the protection of the last of the gorillas for years. Not only do they face the treats from poachers and thieves but also well armed militia groups. Many have given their lives in the protection of the highland gorillas. They do this on a pay scale that is tragically disproportionate to the risk they face and the importance of their work.

The Buffalo Field Campaign in Montana has been set up to protect the last of the native buffalo. They face threats from the state government, at the behest of cattle ranchers, who cull the buffalo due to misguided fears of disease transmission. In this case, the facts are so overwhelming against the cattle ranchers that the most anti-scientific arguments are used to promote the buffalo extermination. This is an extermination right here in the United States.

There are many groups including International Fund for Animal Welfare who work against the Canadian baby seal hunt. There are many good causes, in addition to the Sea Shepherds, who are looking for volunteers and funding. They need your support. Look them up! Thank you.

Japan has been violating international conservation efforts and agreements since the 1930s.

In that time, various Japanese governments and whaling companies have:
1) hunted out of season
2) exceeded quotas
3) killed protected and endangered species
4) ignored internationally recognized wildlife sanctuary boundaries
5) ignored size limits
6) taken inordinate numbers of pregnant whales/mother-calf pairs
7) purposely ignored or failed to warn consumers of the dangerous chemicals and metals found in whale meat (such as mercury, PCBs, DDT derrivatives, chromium and more)
8) spread lies and propaganda about whales like the "whales eat too many fish" argument
9) bribed developing countries to join the IWC and vote pro-whaling
10) supported pirate whaling (subsidiary companies of Japanese fisheries working under the flag of another nation that ship meat to Japan but do not report the catch to the IWC)
11) support permissive laws that allow unregulated coastal whaling through 'bycatch'. (ie: if fishermen "accidentally" catch a whale they can keep it and process it and sell it)
12) contributed to the near extinction of many of the great whales due to over-exploitation
13) supports the whaling industry with taxpayer money through government subsidies

This has been going on for 70 years in defiance of international government, scientific and moral objections. When will it end?

There should be a global boycott of all Japanese made goods and services until whaling and whale products in all forms are criminalized.

If all this is for research, where are the results? Have there been any white papers? Anything published in scientific journals anywhere? Calling it research is such a farce. Can't the IWC see this? Putting a big "research" sign on a harpoon ship is like putting "Mission Accomplished" on an aircraft carrier.

"THat's not yushin 1, it's one of the harpoon ships

Posted by: me | September 23, 2009 at 03:07 PM "

!!!!!!!The Yushins are the harpoon ships....way to go!!!!!!!

Response to Malcolm-
You actually believe the Japanese whalers are killing all these whales for research purposes? If that's the case, their "research" will be the cause for certain whales' extinction. Now does that sound scientifically valid? Their "research" is all for the millions of dollars they make from their slaughters. What isn't money motivated these days, even if it jeopardizes the future of a species? Your information is not correct as the whale populations aren't being monitored. The Fin Whales (which the Japanese Whalers also slaughter) are in fact endangered, while there is no accurate count on the Minke Whales. As many whales spend a year or more nurturing their young I can easily see that the whales will have a hard time fighting back against these population loses- they're not pigs, for example, which have multiple babies who take a lot less time to mature. When you bring in farm animals into the debate, that's not valid as these animals are in no risk of becoming endangered. Whether or not whaling is in a certain population's interest does not matter to me and many others- what matters is that these intelligent creatures are around for my children and children's children to enjoy. I may add that I'm currently in university studying Environmental Studies and the lose of whales in the oceans would have more of an impact than just on emotions- when a species is lost the environment suffers from it the most. I think the world needs to wake up and, instead of killing the vulnerable, preserve them. It's a simple concept that many just cannot get their heads around.


Your comparison between the normal food industry and whale slughtering is a bit naiv.
The food industry breeds animals, the whales are wild animals important to the ecology. Plus the fact that there is no need for whale slaughtering. The japan people doesnt starve. Its just about "traditions" It is not just the islamists that should join the modern times and get rid of all these medieval "traditions"

So, you think the slaughteing of the wales are terrible. Watch "the Cove" and see what their traditions does to Dolphins. Its all about torturing the animals, nothing more and nothing less.

Malcolm - if you can kill a whale as fast as I can kill a chicken, then so be it. Unfortunately, when whales are killed it's a long and pain-staking process that no animal (not even a chicken) should have to endure. I'm sure you know about it, but if not let me explain.

The harpoons are equipped with an exploding tip (e.g., a grenade), you'd think that when a spear-tipped harpoon penetrated deep within a whale's body and exploded that it would end things pretty quickly. But it doesn't. These beings are so massive that the impact of the harpoon and the exploding grenade merely opens a wound so that the whale can begin to bleed out.

There is a LOT of blood in a whale's body, and generally it takes several harpoons to bring the whale about to the point that it will be light enough to float, as well as injured enough to stop diving and trying to escape. Once the whale surfaces, it is reeled near the ship and then a high-powered (and low velocity) rifle, such as a 30/30 is used to inject several slug rounds into the whale's skull in an attempt to damage the animal's brain tissue.

From videos that have been captured by Greenpeace and others, it has been shown that a Minke Whale can be shot more than 10 times directly into the brain cavity and still attempt to put up a fight.

All in all - the process of bringing death to a whale can take as long as 45-minutes. During the entire time the animal is subjected to extreme pain.

In my opinion, it's barbaric.

As for a "double standard" of terrorism (as mentioned by another poster), nobody - not even the SSCS is threatening the lives of the whalers, that is not what they want. They do not believe that it is okay to save a life, by taking lives.

All they wish to do is prevent the long drawn out painstaking death of any animal, including whales. That is an extreme stretch to classify them as "terrorist" - In the USA we define terrorism as the act to imply terror for the purpose of causing death and/or severe injury, not a financial loss. Nobody is threatening anyone's life in the southern oceans. The only people out there that are taking life is the whalers.

At the core of the dispute is a culturally based difference between anti-whaling people (especially numerous in Australia) and other people who do not see whales as being off limits for consumption by humans.

Japan particularly has a majority of its people regarding whales as a legitimate source of food. Given that whales are a marine resource, it then follows that people wishing to use whales as a food resource would wish to collect data and conduct scientific research into the ongoing state of the whale populations most likely to be harvested commercially in future. With sufficient sample data the past, current and future state of whale populations can assessed, and from that safe levels of optimal utilisation may be determined.

This will ensure that whale populations are both conserved for future generations, and current day people may also enjoy both eating whales (as well as watching them). I support whaling under these circumstances, and also support the scientific work that Japan conducts until such a time as the moratorium on whaling expires or is lifted.

That anti-whaling people, through their different cultural backgrounds, eat different types of food to whale eating peoples is something for them to think carefully about when it comes to supporting the actions of groups such as Sea Shepherd. This group has a totalitarian way of thinking, and if they are to succeed in having whales taken off the menus, then the next type of food to be removed could be beef, pork, or chicken, or some other favourite of the anti-whalers. People ought to take care about double standards.

The objective of Sea Shepherd's Antarctic whale campaigns is to intervene against illegal whaling actions by the Japanese whaling fleet. Your support is what drives enforcement and conservation efforts, strengthens resolve, and makes possible the successes Sea Shepherd achieves.

The USA only seems to have a problem with terrorism when they are the victims, not when they are the perpetrators.

The SS regularly use dangerous, illegal intimidation tactics to interferes with Japanese ships on the high seas. What is the response from the USA? Their government gives the SS charitable organization status, and the US media gives them a TV show so that Americans can sit around their televisions and cheer the SS on as they commit their dangerous acts of terror.

An astounding level of hypocrisy from a nation that declared a "war on terror" and tried to preach to other nations that they had a moral responsibility to join them in it.

I back Sea Shepherd 100% also.It is unnecessary for the Japanese government to be killing that many whales.It does not take 1,000 whales for research.One or two at the max,not 1,000. That's just ridiculous and I'm glad they're doing something about it

Sink them do as much as possible to stop them! I also believe there should be more boats like sea shepherd out there helping out with the efforts!!! There should be more countries involved not just Australia! Come on we defeated Japan during World War 2 on the oceans water lets do it again !

When will all the "intelligent nations" get a clue and close the loophole in the existing treaty? Anyone with a brain can see what the Japanese are getting away with and the planet as a whole is suffering for it. God speed to Paul and crew!! Shut them down completely this year and every year until they get the message. I'm eagerly awaiting this season of Whale Wars. Keep up the good work!

THat's not yushin 1, it's one of the harpoon ships

I support the Sea Shepherds - whaling is an outdated practice that is no longer necessary in today's society. This act must stop before it's too late for the endangered whales (such as the Fin Whales which are also killed). I'm glad the show "Whale Wars" brings needed attention to whaling. Japanese whalers hide by using "research" as their motive but we all know it's for the $.

The government might have changed but the arrogance continues. How dare these whaling nations give themselves the right to slaughter these wonderful mammals. They are not items to be 'harvested'. They belong to the seas and perhaps for future generations, ( if climate change doesn't wipe us all out), to watch, respect and wonder at one of nature's true miracles.



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