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Japan vows to proceed with controversial whale hunts


So much for recent claims by Greenpeace that an end to Japanese whaling might be in sight because of its high cost in a bad economy.

Japan's foreign minister, Katsuya Okada, this week stated the country's new government will not review its policy on whaling, which has a powerful cultural significance.

Japan's fleet of harpoon and processing vessels is en route to the Antarctic region to participate in an annual hunt that targets 935 non-endangered minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales. "We do not think there is a need for a policy review," Okada told the Australian newspaper. 

Okada added: "It would be a different story if it were an endangered species.... on the verge of extinction. But if not, I think the average Japanese would like to consume whale meat in the future."

Capt. Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which also is en route to the area to try to disrupt the whale hunt, seized the opportunity to point out that Okada made no reference to research Japan supposedly is conducting in association with the hunts.

"He has made it very clear that this is a commercial operation and the objective is to kill whales for consumption and for profit," Watson said in a post on the Sea Shepherd website.

Japan has been taking advantage of a "lethal research" loophole in the wording of an international moratorium imposed on commercial whaling in 1986. The Institute of Cetacean Research was established in 1987.

The whale hunts are funded by the sale of whale meat and government subsidies.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: A crewman from the Japanese whaler Yushin Maru No 3 leans over with a gun to help subdue a minke whale. Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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Comments (21)

Its Japan and Norway against the world eh? Well lots of us dummys will fight with our wallets. I wont buy another Toyota I will guarantee you! And I think that the Japanese cruelties say something about their oh so polite society.

The new government is every bit as bad as the previous one. Maybe worse.
Midnight Rambler

Posted by: Malcolm | December 13, 2009 at 04:23 PM
"It's fine to criticise, but other than Japan I don't see any other nation actually in the Antarctic doing much research on fin whale numbers. If someone wants to go down there, count fin whales and debunk what the Japanese say then let's have it."

I can not agree more. The ICR`s research programs (both lethal and non-lethal methods) produced number of scientific results that nobody else could get.

Of course, I know that the ICR is doing research to prove that the sustainable whaling is possible.

Funny how Japan signed the Antarctic agreement which outlines that no commerical activites can be conducted on or around the continent. No waste jumping, no refuelling etc.

Wow - what the hell, they are down there doing just that. Illegally whaling in a sanctuary, refuelling and dumping offal etc into the ocean.

There are just so many reasons for Japan to NOT be there. Plus, the international harm they are doing to their image??

Turn up the water pressure captain - illegal scum whalers ahead!

Remember when the Australian customs and fisheries vessel went down there to 'monitor' the whale slaughter? Remember how they discovered Japan was taking pregant whales, baby whales (calves) etc etc?

Their response was to get good data a range of ages and sexes was needed in their study.

Just like the banners they hold up "We're examining the stomach contents", "We're doing research"

What about the study that found they hasd been harpooning Blue, Sperm and Humpback whales...

Brutal lying savages. Boycott Japan

Japan is ranked as 1 of the worst countries for sex trafficking in women and child sex the possession of child pornography is still legal in Japan.
Worse country in developed world for gender inequality
The Japanese are largely a backward people.
In WWII Japanese women & children throw themselves off cliffs when Allied forces advanced, brain washed and ill treated by Japanese propaganda, they thought American soldiers would eat them,
and, rape them
Verdict: dont buy Buy Japanese products

I am from South Africa,
I learned a long time ago that Japanese products, while good were no match for US products and US products are almost always cheaper.

Why buy Japanese products?
They go-on / act / come across as such respectful people - they are so far from it!

Why, I'll tell you.

I’m sure the Japanese govt got permission to enter NZ & Aust antarctic territorial waters? Yeah Thought so. They do what they please. Raping the oceans. Japan only responds to strong action. Look what it took to stop WW2 in the Pacific…

Simple: Dispatch the whaling fleet with a couple of torpedoes. It's all about the YEN. Hopefully the conditions are terrible and they can't do any whaling and come back empty handed and lose money AGAIN.

As long as Japanese whalers continue to slaughter whales, I will continue to boycott Japanese products...and Japanese companies.
Simple as that.
If the world at large would adapt this strategy, the Japanese government would bring whaling to a dramatic halt.
The Japanes make a HUGE effort to convince the world that they are environmentally engaged in a positive manner, but the truth is that they destroy more of the natural world than most any other nation.
They are shameless, and dishonorable, and should be made to pay economically.
The one thing Japanese like more than Whale, and tuna, etc is MONEY.


Have you been to Sea Shepherd website? I guess not if you make comments like that. They are involved in stuff all over the planet. Illegal fishing, poaching, long lining, sea bed dredging, sustainable fishing practices etc etc. They can't solve all of the worlds problems you know. Aa lot of that is up to individuals like us, our governments, private corporations etc etc. He's not captain planet. But he is doing his best with the limited resources he has - and hence the TV series, this will help fund more of these sort of environmental efforts. He was going down there well before Animal Planet decided to make a show out of it. You want to criticise, try GreenPeace.

Get informed before posting.

First off, Fin whales and humpbacks shouldn't be targetted by Japan in the first place as they are endangered and threatened respectively. This inability to hunt sustainably is the reason for the moratorium in the first place.
Second, there are lots of Minke whales, but their numbers are thought to be not even half the 700,000 the IWC was estimating (a figure that was withdrawn years ago). As of now, we do not know how many minkes there are, and should not be hunting them at any level until we do, and anyone that says we need to hunt them to figure out if there are enough of them to hunt needs to have their head examined.
Oh Yeah has no clue. The government tried to give whale meat away for schools and pet food, but this has not worked to reduce the almost 5000 tonnes that is sitting in frozen storage. Less than 5% of Japanese people eat whale meat these days. There is no demand, and suggesting that they try to "pep up" demand in a business that does such huge diplomatic damage is ridiculous.
Greenpeace hasn't given up, and it hasn't gone to the southern ocean as it believes the only way to stop Japan whaling is to work on the issue in Japan, which it is doing with the whale meat embezzlement scandal. I tend to agree that this is the right move. Greenpeace has been working on whales for over 30 years, and has been to the Southern Ocean more than twice as many times as SSCS has. I don't mean to diss SSCS here, but its funny how quickly people forget Greenpeace's long history working on whaling. Both organisations have gone head to head with the whalers, but it is obviously not working - particularly given the foreign ministers latest comments. To say "so much for GP's recent claims" is a bit shortsighted. There's a lot of money tied up in whaling, and a lot of Japanese people that are getting fed up with it.

Whaling has a "powerful cultural significance" in Japan?? Maybe with old people, but certainly not with younger generations. I know this not only because my Japanese friends and their parents have told me this. Also, a recent survey conducted in Japan overwhelmingly showed young people don't eat whale meat. So once the older heneration kicks the bucket(respectfully), the already low demand will be gone entirely.

Captain Kangaroo should focus on far more pressing issues ailing the great blue sea such as industrial pollution, urban runoff from regular Joe's, illegal longlining, and trawling. All of which are, by themselves, more destructive than Japan's harvesting of minke whales. Not trying to downplay the significance, but it's true. But since it doesn't make for must see TV, they'll keep ignoring what really plagues the world's oceans. How sad.

The minke whales are not remotely endangered, but the fin whales certainly are, and there's no reason to be going after them.

That all said, Japanese whaling is a very, very strange cultural and political artifact. There's nothing "traditional" about the Japanese practice of commercial whaling, which they learned from the West. It primarily seems to be an outlet for repressed right-wing Japanese political sentiments -- the one area where Japan can still act in defiance of the rest of the world.

It is pretty hard to believe any "data" that the Japanese provide. They will continue to say there is plenty of blue-fin tuna about as well (and we all know they are on the brink of collapse). Just like the horrors of WW2 that Japan "has deleted" from history books.

Greenpeace are more of a profiteering corporation now. THey don't even send ships to the antartic now. That tells me they have given up and its more profitable to not spend the money on the voyage.

If only they were more agressive like Sea Shep. Australia, New Zealand and South American countries have done loads of research on whales. Yes, FIN whales only just scrape into the category of threatened (from endangered). So that's a green light for butchering them is it?

Japan's flotilla of ships (2 Naval / Coast guard escorts as well?) is just an absolute environment disgrace. They dump tons of waste into the ocean down there. They refuel inside the Antartic Exclusion zone and not to mention the butchering of whales in a whale sanctuary. We do not even know if they only take Minke whales. They could be slaughtering all sorts, even endangered whales for all we know. Since they probably under report and cook the books. Remember that DNS testing they did (under cover buyers of various whale meat samples from markets in Japan) ?? They found Blue, Right, Fin, Bow Head, Sperm and Humpback whale species. That says they are harvesting any whale they come across.

They must be stopped.


Nice, mature and sensible comment. (as usual).

Perhaps posting something useful instead of blah blah, grow up and get a grip. How would you like to be harpooned? or harpooned in the leg, drag around a while and then shot at until you're dead? Carved up and rammed down the throats of young school children, contaminated with PCB's, HG etc. Feeling good so far? This whole thing is a slap in the face of the international community. And just re-affirms that Japan does whatever it wants. Whales,Dolphins, Tuna, whatever. Keep raping the oceans you short sighted, narrow minded and agressively stubborn people. They claim the are harvesting resources and that what they are doing is legal. Yet, do they cry about it whenever the issue is raised. Whenever Sea Shep get near them "SS Eco-terrorists are ramming us". Govt's of the world must arrest Sea Shepherd. For crying out loud. Get a grip Japan. Thet certainly are wasting a lot of tax payers money on this farce. Especially with the extra escorts this year. Any Japanese tax payers out there??? Do you know what your GOVT is doing? No? No freedom of speech, no free media? Wool pulled over your eyes? Thought so.

What a great honour to be Japanese? No way. Don't buy Japanese products.

Greenpeace blew any credibility it had over the whaling issue a long time ago. I don't understand why media keeps asking them for quotes, other than that they've always got something to say. But media do have a bit of responsibility to not just act as a mouth piece for Greenpeace fundraisers who don't have real jobs.

Even the fin whales that Japan is hunting are increasing in number, according to the Japanese. So can we believe them?

Look at what they aren't hunting: Blue whales for example. This is a species that is still in a depleted state (albeit increasing slowly), less than 10,000, so of course the Japanese aren't hunting them.

That they are aiming to catch 50 fin whales each year gives me the impression that there are actually enough fin whales to sustain this level of catches over time, and still see the overall fin numbers continue to increase in number.

It's fine to criticise, but other than Japan I don't see any other nation actually in the Antarctic doing much research on fin whale numbers. If someone wants to go down there, count fin whales and debunk what the Japanese say then let's have it.

Oh the poor innocent defenceless whales they're just like us so intelligent and majestic whinge whinge blah blah.

Grow up and get a grip, the lot of you.

Perhaps the Enola Gay or Bockscar should pay another visit to Japan? The only way to stop you lot is direct action. Otherwise the whole saving face thing keeps you going at any cost. Huge cost to your countries image and reputation. Sad Really.

Great to see govt is forcing whale meat into schools / age care homes for lunches etc to try to get the industry going and pepping up demand. Too bad it is full of mercury - just like the dolphins they slaughter in Taiji every year in a brutal way (all in the name of tradition). Wasn't it tradition to hang up your black slaves back in the day too if they misbehaved? People, Japan needs to get with the times.

I'll admit that the hunting of fin whales should end but minke whale numbers are very strong. Japanese records indicate that the average amount of useable meat per harvested minkes during the 2008 season was 5 tons. That's a whole lot of meat that is healthy, delicious and plentiful. Japan is very overpopulated country and this is a vital food source that should not be overlooked. If you ever visit Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo be sure to try whale meat-the amazing taste will change your mind.

I use my money as a political weapon and shop accordingly. Bye bye Japanese products!

the Japenese are disgracful in this barbaric excercise in killing these beatiful mammals.

Notice the traditional design of that craft? That's just the way they used to hunt them in the Antarctic back in the Edo days.

When are we gonna have an international agency that can enforce international law? I mean, united nations, hello, you guys need to step up and do something about it! The Japanese need to understand, whether they like it or not, that you cannot hunt an endangered species simply because its close to extinction, and as a member of the community of species we human being do not have the right to play god and take animals to extinction. What is more, we need to protect them all.


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.