Civil society groups demand review of Japan's whaling
Dec 2, 2011, 5:59 GMT
Tokyo - Citizens groups and non-governmental organizations urged the government Friday to implement a fundamental review of whaling as the Japanese fleet was expected to leave soon for this year's hunt in the Southern Ocean.
The groups criticized the government for earmarking money in its budget for whaling, which is subject to a 1986 international moratorium and is opposed by many other countries.
Japan approved a 12.1-trillion-yen (155.6-billion-dollar) supplementary budget in late November, which would fund reconstruction in the north-east, which was ravaged by the March earthquake and tsunami. About 2.28 billion yen of the money is going for whaling, the groups pointed out.
'That is inexcusable,' said Nanami Kurasawa, executive director of the Dolphin and Whale Action Network. 'We believe many of the public hope the money would be spent on the regeneration of the coastal communities and disaster victim support.'
Japan's whaling is not supported by international agreements, Junichi Sato, executive director of Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement. 'It is not something into which the government pumps large amounts of taxpayers' money,' he said.
Tatsuya Nakaoku, a fisheries agency official, said it was aware that Japan's whaling has been criticized.
'But that does not mean Japan has been isolated,' Nakaoku insisted. 'Japan's scientific research whaling has been supported by many International Whaling Commission member nations.'
Japan officially halted commercial whaling in 1987, but it has used a loophole in the international moratorium to continue whaling under the premise of scientific research.
Nakaoku declined to say when the whaling fleet would leave Japan.