Subject: Case Study: Japan Whaling View

Michael Williamson (whe_william)
Mon, 5 Jan 1995 12:27:57

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From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Case Study: Japan Whaling View
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From:         Alan Macnow <>
Subject:      WHALING: JAPAN'S VIEWS, 1 of 2
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
             FROM: Alan Macnow
                   Consultant, Japan Whaling Association
      For participants in this conference who are interested in Japan's
      views on whaling, following is the first of two articles by Mr.
      Kunio Yonezawa, former Commissioner of Japan to the IWC, as pub-
      lished in the Japan Times, 8 Nov. 1994:
                          FOES OF WHALING LACK LOGIC
              For more than 20 years, whaling has been both an emotional
      and a political issue.  Science, logic and trust among nations
      have, thus far, been the losers.
              It all began as a political wrangle in late 1971, when the
      secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Human En-
      vironment introduced an agenda item to consider a 10-year
      moratorium on all commercial whaling, alleging that all whales
      species were threatened with extinction.
              As I witnessed, and as documents in the United States Na-
      tional Archives corroborate, this last-minute maneuver was, it ap-
      peared, part of a grand design to divert the Stockholm Confer-
      ence's attention from the mounting bitter criticism of the Vietnam
              The ploy succeeded and the conference adopted the resolu-
      tion.  The U.S. delegation then proceeded triumphantly to London
      for the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission
              However, this time, just two weeks later, the U.S. found
      itself stunningly defeated by the ruling of the IWC's Scientific
      Committee.  The committee had considered the resolution and had
      ruled unanimously - including the two top U.S. scientific aides in
      Stockholm - that "there is no scientific justification for the
      blanket moratorium."
              Failing to prevail with this extinction approach, anti
      whaling delegations gradually shifted their strategy to the more
      salable one of uncertainty and inadequacy of available scientific
              This, they thought, combined with recruitment of new mem-
      bers voting in their favor, would enable them to prevail. (The
      number of IWC member nations mushroomed from 17 in 1972 to 39 in
      1982. Prominent leaders of anti whaling nongovernmental organiza-
      tions (NGOs) found it advantageous to seat themselves in many of
      these new delegations as commissioners, spokesmen or scientists.)
              When in 1982, they finally succeeded in having their
      coveted resolution for a moratorium adopted, the moratorium had,
      however, still never been recommended by the IWC's own Scientific
              The Scientific Committee's antipathy (or, perhaps, in some
      cases, apathy) regarding the moratorium was particularly worth
      noting in view of the radical changes in the committee's composi-
      tion.  Anti whaling delegations had placed or substituted
      scientists of their choice, many of whom had quite dubious
      qualifications.  Indeed, what had been a small gathering of some
      20 scientists had, by 1989, been turned into an almost unmanage-
      able caucus of over 100 participants.
              The 1982 moratorium resolution, premised on alleged con-
      cerns of scientific insufficiency and inadequacy, mandated the
      commission, through two rider resolutions, to undertake and com-
      plete a comprehensive assessment of major whale resources by 1990,
      and to develop a new resource management mechanism to ensure the
      safety of these resources.
              With these riders, the "victory" of the anti whaling na-
      tions was bound to be short-lived.  The completion of these tasks,
      particularly the completion of the Revised Management Procedure
      (RMP) in 1991, put an end to the perennial controversy over the
      adequacy and reliability of data and analyses.
              For the RMP, Japanese and other scientists put forward
      five proposals, all of which proved equally effective.  However,
      it was ironic that the Scientific Committee decided to recommend
      to the commission for formal adoption the one developed by Justin
      Cooke, a British scientist known to be closely linked to Green-
      peace.  It chose Cooke's proposal for its relative simplicity in
              The RMP's comprehensive stock analysis also generally con-
      firmed the scientific Committee's earlier conclusions, establish-
      ing, inter alia, that the best population estimate of minke whales
      between the ice pack edge and 60 degree south was 760,000. (There
      are also a large number of minke whales outside this area in the
      southern oceans.)
              The completion of the RMP and the comprehensive assessment
      came as a shuddering shock to the ultra-antiwhaling nations.
      Among them, New Zealand was the one which, two months later,
      rushed to Geneva to the third session of the Preparatory Committee
      of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) to
      propose for the UNCED agenda a resolution for a new 10-year
              The document - by IWC commissioner Ian Stewart - was dis-
      tributed at PrepComm.  It described the reasons for the proposal
      in a shamelessly candid way, warning that,"...the RMP might well
      be adopted at IWC's next meeting in June 1992...(This would) un-
      lock the door to the resumption of whaling....[I]t was not that a
      majority if IWC members  were necessarily in favor of resumption,
      [but that] they were being driven by the IWC Convention itself,"
      which would allow whaling under satisfactory stock conditions.
      The proposal concluded that therefore the resolution at UNCED for
      a 10-year moratorium was the only way to prevent this resumption.
              In a nutshell, it confessed callously that after more than
      20 years of fuss over science, they intended to renege on their
      1982 commitments, and that all their arguments had been nothing
      more than expedient devices for pursuing their hidden agenda.
              New Zealand failed.  France was next to move.  It proposed
      for the 1992 meeting consideration of the establishment of a
      sanctuary 40 degrees south in the southern oceans.  Although the
      proposal was deceptively dubbed the Antarctic Sanctuary, it cov-
      ered far too extensive an area to justify such terminology - vast
      areas equivalent in the Northern Hemisphere north to a line con-
      necting roughly Aomori, Lisbon and Washington, D.C.
              In failing to explain why the RMP could not be applied in
      this area, the proposal was nothing more than "a desperate attempt
      by animal rights groups to prevent the use of minke whales in the
      southern oceans." [Dr.Douglas Butterworth, associate professor,
      University of Cape Town, "Science and Sentimentalism," June 18,
      1992, Nature.]
              Nonetheless, the commission did adopt this proposal at its
      1994 meeting, amending it to exclude the exclusive economic zone
      of the affected coastal states from the sanctuary - an attempt to
      override the objections of Latin American countries.  In the adop-
      tion process, anti whaling delegations turned a deaf ear to both
      of the Japanese proposals: one that the French proposal be
      referred to the Scientific Committee for detailed computer
      stimulation; the other that the sanctuary exclude from its ap-
      plication minke whales - the smallest and the most prolific
      species, and the one which, through exhaustive study, the
      Scientific Committee had established was the most robust.
              The absurdity of the French proposal is beyond doubt.  It
      alleged that the annual harvesting of 2,000-3,000 minke whales
      from a stock in excess of 760,000, by a process the RMP would
      detail, might well retard the recovery of other whale species and
      interfere with the ecosystem.
              Even the French delegate himself, when confronted with
      these logical points at the 1993 IWC meeting, admitted in a plen-
      ary session that the French proposal was more political than
              With all of this, it was inevitable that the government of
      Japan would lodge a formal objection to the sanctuary resolution.
      Japan did so in September.