Japan Puts Commercial Whaling on Agenda
Wednesday, February 7, 2007 Posted: 05:34 PM JST
(by Linda van Engelenburg) - The Japanese government wants to try to make an effort for the resumption of commercial whaling at an international conference in Tokyo next week. It will be the first international conference hosted by the Japanese government to encourage the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to lift its moratorium on commercial whaling, adopted in 1982.
The Japanese Fisheries Agency is inviting the 72 member nations of the IWC as well as the organization's secretariat to attend the meeting, scheduled for February 13 to 15.
Although the IWC General Committee has for the past two years been roughly split 50-50 on whether commercial whaling should recommence, the petition has not yet come close to passing, because under IWC rules a significant change of the moratorium requires a 75% majority.
In 2005 the IWC rejected a bid by Japan to push through a document aimed at eventually resuming commercial whaling, with anti-whaling nations labeling it "an insult". Environmentalists said the document failed to address any of its major objections, such as the suffering of whales under different killing techniques and how commercial catches will be independently regulated.
The Fisheries Agency now aims to prod the IWC into creating a framework that can strike a balance between whale conservation and hunting whales for commercial purposes, the sources said. The agency considers that starting discussions from a scientific viewpoint at the IWC will lead to the resumption of commercial whaling.
The agency aims to win the support of the member nations at he Tokyo conference so that Japan and other pro-whaling nations will be able to submit a joint recommendation at the IWC's annual meeting to be held in Anchorage, Alaska, in May.
Just like in Iceland and Norway, which also have a long tradition of whaling, polls in Japan often show that many people are not against the resumption of commercial whaling. This is in stark contrast with fervent anti-whaling countries like the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
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