Despite a United Nations Court of Justice ruling earlier this year Japan just won’t stop murdering whales, says PETER FROST
Many of us believed our worldwide campaign to stop the bloody slaughter of some of our largest and most intelligent ocean creatures had secured a major victory earlier this year.
I was delighted to report the victory in this very column when the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the Japanese government should immediately stop the slaughter of whales in Antarctic waters.
The UN court declared that, despite long-term claims from Toyko that the hunt was for scientific purposes, the true purpose was the commercial harvesting of whale meat for food and thus illegal under the 1986 International Moratorium on Whaling of which Japan is a signatory.
We believed the Japanese when they told the world they would, albeit reluctantly, abide by the court’s decision.
Quite simply they lied. They had no intention to stop whaling, rather they planned to slink away and come up with a duplicitous plan to continue the bloody slaughter in some underhand way.
Now Japan has revealed its new plans to bypass the UN ban and to try to confuse world opinion with a new, scaled-down scientific programme that limits its catch only to minke whales.
Japan argues that minke whales and a number of other species are plentiful and that its whale-hunting activities are sustainable. Very few real marine mammal experts agree with that view.
Having said they would abide by the UN court’s ruling in March, Japanese officials are poised to submit a revised programme to the IWC’s scientific committee next month.
Since 2005 Japan has slaughtered some 3,600 minke whales. Only tiny tissue samples go to laboratories. Most of the meat ended up in expensive Japanese restaurants and sushi bars.
Even more appallingly some whale meat is made into expensive chewing toys for Japan’s many pampered lap dogs.
The Japanese whalers didn’t give in easily either in court or in the oceans.
It took direct action by organisations like Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd (below) who harassed the Japanese fleet in international waters with heroic actions that saw volunteers putting themselves between the Japanese harpooners and the whales.
These actions played a massive part in winning world opinion to opposing the Japanese whaling deceit and its so-called scientific research claims.
The Australian government took Japan to the world court and its legal argument was simple. Japan’s slaughter had nothing to do with environmental research and was commercial whaling in disguise.
UN Judge Peter Tomka agreed and ordered that Japan should withdraw all permits and licences for its whaling ships in the Antarctic and not issue any new ones.
In fact Japan had signed up to the international moratorium on whaling in 1986 but continued whaling in the north and south Pacific hiding under the dubious excuse of provisions that allowed for limited scientific research.
Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands — an autonomous country within Denmark — rejected the moratorium and continued commercial whaling. They still do today.
In 2012 South Korea announced it would follow Japan’s lead and start scientific whaling again. A huge worldwide campaign forced South Korea to change its mind.
In Japan the meat from the slaughtered whales is sold commercially despite more and more Japanese finding the slaughter and the consumption of whale meat unacceptable.
Any attempt by Japan to relaunch its Antarctic hunt will meet with strong opposition from Australia and New Zealand and many other countries.
Japan’s fleet could be sailing in Antarctic waters by the end of next year. If it does Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace must harass them and stop their murderous efforts.
The weight of world opinion is against Japan but that has never stopped it in the past. Let us make 2014 the year that ends Japanese whaling forever.
This article first appeared in the Morning Star 3 October 2014.