Japan's 'fake' whaling programme crumbling, Greenpeace claims – Fishupdate.com

Japan’s ‘fake’ whaling programme crumbling, Greenpeace claims Published:  18 January, 2008

The Esperanza has been chasing the Nisshin Maru

GREENPEACE activists today sent a message direct from the Southern Ocean back to Tokyo, as pressure mounts inside Japan to end its controversial whaling programme.

Holding the kanji symbol of the year, ‘nise’, meaning ‘fake’ – against the hull of the Japanese whaling fleet’s factory ship Nisshin Maru, Japan whales campaigner Sakyo Noda sent a message to the people of Japan. According to Greenpeace, this is yet another in a series of scandals that the Japanese government is trying to cover up by claiming that its whaling programme is legitimate research.

Today, one of the leading newspapers in Japan, Asahi Shimbun, was also reported to have called into question the validity of the whaling programme, by asking: “Why is the Japanese government so insistent on engaging in whaling?”.

The article reportedly cites concerns about the use of taxpayer’s money, dubious science and the lack of interest from the fishing industry in supporting the whaling programme. It is also said to claim that former employees of the Japanese government Fisheries Agency were “parachuted” into key roles in the supposedly independent Institute of Cetacean Research – the agency which commissions the whaling fleet.

“For the past week we have stopped the whaling programme here in the Southern Ocean”, said Sakyo Noda. “In Japan there is now growing concern about this fake science, giving new opportunities to show how scandalous it is, in order to close it down for good.”

In addition, Tokyo’s comments on the whaling programme are now usually handled by both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cabinet Office. Greenpeace claims this is a clear indication that the government is losing confidence in its own Fisheries Agency, the ministry that normally deals with whaling issues.

Earlier today, the Yushin Maru No.2, one of the harpoon-carrying “catcher boats” joined with the Nisshin Maru hundreds of miles north of the whale hunting grounds, where the Greenpeace ship Esperanza continues to keep the fleet’s mother ship out of action.

The Esperanza has been chasing the Nisshin Maru since it discovered the whaling fleet in the early hours of January 12th – the factory ship then fled from the whaling grounds. Without the Nisshin Maru, the rest of the fleet cannot hunt, because the whales must be transferred to the factory vessel, cut up and frozen immediately after being harpooned. The whalers plan to kill 935 minke whales this season, as well as 50 endangered fin whales.

“We have kept the factory ship and the rest of the fleet out of action for six days now” said expedition leader Karli Thomas. “No whales have been killed in that time. Now we’ve got two whalers out of the hunting grounds. If they try to return and begin hunting, we’ll be launching our boats and carrying out peaceful, direct action, by putting ourselves in front of the harpoons to defend the whales”.

Japan’s so-called scientific research programme has reportedly been dismissed as ‘useless’ by the International Whaling Commission, of which Japan is a member, and in 2007 the organisation passed a resolution calling for an end to Japan’s whaling in the Southern Ocean Whaling Sanctuary.

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