Subject: Info: Japan hopes anti-whaling tide (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Fri, 28 Jun 1996 08:47:11 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 96 11:29:00 UTC 0000
Subject: Japan hopes anti-whaling tide

Japan hopes anti-whaling tide turning at IWC

    By Paul Eckert
     TOKYO, June 14 (Reuter) - Japan sees emerging signs before
this month's meeting of the International Whaling Commission
(IWC) that the world whaling body is moving away from a rigid
anti-whaling stance, a Japanese official said on Friday.
     "Conditions have changed considerably in a favourable
direction since last year's IWC meeting," said an official of
Japan's Fisheries Agency.
     A IWC Scientific Committee survey showed stocks of minke
whales are at 760,000, enough to permit the culling of some
2,000 annually, said the official, who declined to be
     The political atmosphere is also improving for Japan, which
wants to resume commercial whaling, banned since a 1982 IWC
moratorium, he said.
     "Japan is not expecting an immediate policy change at the
IWC, but we have gradually gained understanding of our stance,"
he said by telephone.
     He cited as an example South Africa which is reviewing its
previous anti-whaling stance, suggesting "the door could be
open to a resumption of some whaling."
     Germany's parliament has also recently shown a slight change
in its stance, backing away from support for an absolute ban,
the official said.
     At the annual IWC meeting, to be held this month in
Scotland, the Japanese government intends to reiterate its basic
position that marine resources should be preserved for sustained
utilization and that each country's food culture should be
respected, he said.
     As it has in recent years, Japan will also call for a review
of the 1994 IWC resolution establishing a whale sanctuary in the
Antarctic Ocean.
     Japan caught 440 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean between
November and March under an IWC policy that allows "research
whaling," the Fisheries Agency said.
     The survey harvest was larger than the 300 minke whales it
has taken annually since it joined the global moratorium in
     Citing U.S. and Russian requests that the IWC allow small
quotas of grey and bowhead whales, respectively, for indigenous
minorities, Japan will request an annual catch quota of 50 minke
whales for its Pacific coastal whaling communities, the official
     Similar Japanese requests have been repeatedly rejected in
the past, he said.
     Japan's dwindling and aging population of whalers, all but
put out of work by the moratorium, eke out a living thanks to
government policy allowing them to catch species which do not
fall under IWC restrictions.
     Although in Japan whaling is not the emotive issue it is in
Western countries, Japanese environmentalists have criticised
Tokyo's claim that whaling is a deep part of the country's
     Japanese research whaling is thinly disguised commercial
whaling because most of the meat ends up as an expensive
delicacy in Japanese restaurants, activists say.
     Modern whaling by big factory ships in the Antarctic has
nothing to do with Japanese tradition of hunting from small
rowboats, Japan's environmental groups say.