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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



NHK cartoon on IWC Normalization

Y/H-san pointed us to an NHK article, accompanied by a great cartoon (view it at the original link). The cartoon perhaps sums up the national broadcaster's take on the IWC normalization issue (no translation here... yet, who knows).

As readers can tell for themselves, the cartoon likens the IWC circus to a boxing ring, with Japan, Korea, Norway and Iceland representatives all standing in the red corner of the ring, which is emblazoned with a whale picture labelled "Commercial Whaling Resumption".

Meanwhile, in the blue corner, a sign is placed on the boxer's stool proclaiming the position of the other team: "Absolutely Opposed". Outside the ring, the blue team is a shambles, with the New Zealand representative is seen vigorously tut tutting those who are still willing to fight, the British rep sitting on his bum, the Aussie rep skipping rope, and the completely disinterested American rep is infatuated with a newspaper article about Iraq.

The Japanese rep is wishfully indicating to the blue team reps to get back in the ring, while the Iceland rep is crossing off another year of whaling in 2007.

A jaded looking ring girl is staggering back between the ropes to indicate that it's time for the 25th round...

* * *

There should be more in the media about the outcome of the IWC Normalization meeting tomorrow.

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Japan 'should let Greenpeace tow ship'
16th February 2007, 12:52 WST

Click here to find out more!
Greenpeace has called on the Australian government to pressure Japan to accept its offer to tow a stricken whaling vessel out of pristine Antarctic waters.

The 8,000-tonne factory ship, Nisshin Maru, was badly damaged by a fire on Thursday and authorities are concerned large amounts of oil aboard could leak and affect the world's largest penguin breeding rookeries.

Greenpeace said its vessel, Esperanza, was less than 24 hours sailing from the disabled ship and had offered to tow it to safety.

Australia should contact Japan and urge it to accept the Esperanza's help, the group said, despite an earlier rebuff from Japan's Fisheries Agency which has labelled anti-whaling protesters terrorists.

"Greenpeace is calling on the Australian government to support immediate action being taken to remove the potential for environmental harm that the disabled ship poses," Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive Steve Shallhorn said in a statement.

"As a signatory to the Madrid Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty, Australia is empowered to act under the Antarctic Liability Annex.

"Like New Zealand's Environment Minister, (Australia's Environment Minister) Malcolm Turnbull is in a position to urge the Japanese government to accept assistance from the nearest vessel, which is the Greenpeace ship Esperanza."

Karli Thomas, the expedition leader aboard the Esperanza, said Japan must accept the group's assistance.

"We have a moral obligation to act and there is a legal obligation under the Antarctic treaty for the Nisshin Maru's owners to accept our help," she said.

New Zealand, which is dealing with the emergency, urged the Japanese government to immediately move the stricken vessel to extinguish any risk of an environmental disaster.

New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter said it appeared unlikely the vessel would be able to restart its engines, despite Japanese authorities saying the fire was out.

"It is effectively immobilised and without power in one of the most extreme marine environments in the world," Carter said.

"New Zealand believes it is imperative that the Nisshin Maru is towed further away from the pristine Antarctic coast, the neighbouring penguin colony and the perilous ice floes in the ship's vicinity."

Carter said noted that the Greenpeace ship Esperanza and an American tugboat at the US Antarctic base at McMurdo Sound were available to tow the stricken ship away from the coast.

Carter said forecasts indicated that good weather in the area, about 100 nautical miles off the coast, might last for two more days.

He said the Nisshin Maru was lashed between two other vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet and they were helping it avoid icebergs.

"But Maritime New Zealand fears this arrangement could become very dangerous if the weather turns and the seas become violent," Carter said.

However, Tokyo's Institute of Cetacean Research, which controls the Japan's whaling program, issued a statement saying that "fears that this might turn into some environmental disaster are premature".

"The vessel is not drifting, it's not listing and it's not leaking. The Nisshin Maru is stable," it said.

A tug capable of towing the stricken ship to a port would take six days to reach it from New Zealand.

The institute's director general, Hiroshi Hatanaka, said there was still no trace of crew member Kazutaka Makita, a 27-year-old sailor missing since the fire broke out.
"Amid reports Japan had rejected offers of help from environment "terrorists", Hideki Moronuki at the Japanese Fisheries Agency said Greenpeace had not been in contact.

But the Nisshin Maru may have refused help because the ship had been boarded by Greenpeace activists in New Caledonia in 1998 as it lay in port after another fire, Moronuki said."

If I remember well, Greenpeace activists tied themselves to the harpoon gun of one of the catcher boats in Noumea, despite the fact that one crewmember of the Nisshin-maru had died in the fire accident in 1998.

Greenpeace are looking to exploit the image of them towing the whaling boat out of Antarctica. It's more about their image than anything.
It is unfortunate that the situation exists at all.

As it does then one must be pragmatic and decisive. The weather could turn very nasty quite quickly and when it does the task of keeping that ship off a leeshore will be that much harder. Potentially causing further loss of life never mind any environmental disaster.

I do not get the impression that many of the readers and responders of this blogg or indeed David himself are people who have much experience in maritime environments such as being far from land and "safety".

Having something in the region of 40,000 miles under my belt aboard 100 ft plus sailing vessels I know it is imperitive to be prepared and ready for anything at any time. I've seen 80 knot gusts and see that looks froth with waves in the region 40 ft, together with a fair share of gales etc. Until you experience it you have no idea.

check this out if you want an idea..


Under these circumstance that exists for the whaling fleet it is imperitive that sufficient horsepower and an appropriate vessel be employed to get the vessel out of the position it is currently in, which is a very precarious.

The Esperansa is the closest ship that would seem capable, being an ex firefighting ship it is likely that equiped to tow large ships, which requires huge horsepower that is unlikely to be possesed by other ships in the whaling fleet.

Of course they are currently usig there own vessels to avoid icebergs in calm weather, if and when it turns this mode will be untenable. It needs to be towed from the bow in those conditions and it does not appear that they are trying to get the vessel out of the area to find sea room, which is tricky with all that ice around. at least they are unlikely to have to worry about water depth.

I have not heard anything about the government of Japan engaging the tug (name I do not recall) down to the Ross Sea, currently it is six and half days away. The responsible action would be to at least charter this vessel so it can make its way to the NM post haste.

I have worked in ocean salvage and know that you need to have about three back up plans for any eventuality and that was operating in tropical water where the weather is more stable. The Antarctic is the most inhospital waters in the world.

While I get that there is an element of saving face here, should the situation deteriorate and the nightmare possability happens we will see a loss of head not just face.
Despite the tragedy with the whaler being lost and with the hope he would be found unharmed, isn't it ironic that Japanese whalers claimed Sea Shepherd's intention to ram Nisshin Maru represented a threat to the environment, and now in turn it is them who prove to be a potential environmental catastrophe? Isn't it silly, in the light of what has happened, to refuse Greenpeace help? Is politics involved here? Politics that threatens environment... Should we call them environment terrorists then?
There is no potential for an "environmental catastrophe" here.

Greenpeace are trying desperately to make an issue out of this because they aren't going to make any money out of their 1970's era "save the whales" campaign this season.

The tragedy is that a human being has perished in a fire accident. Commenters should remember this before being fooled by Greenpeace's malevolent fear mongering and clicking the "publish your comment" button here.
My sincerest condolences to the family of Kazutaka Makita.

The human tradgedy a very real issue, as is vessel's status. Now is not the time for acrimoney, to ignore this would be both ignorant and inappropriate. And one I am sure the deceased would endorse.

"There is no potential for an "environmental catastrophe" here."

You need to really think about that statement in the context of the situation only, not with the baggage of history this upturn of events carries.

Until that ship is under the tow of an appropriate vessel or under it's own power at 100%, the potential still exist. They are operating in the most hostile waters on the planet, or do you just not get that !?

What is occuring right now is only risk management without the right tools.

Yes GP will make milage out of it and had the shoe been on another foot so would the ICR and the Japanese government.

I believe the best thing is that we wait and see what occurs until a statement along the lines of an all clear is sounded.

In the mean time much is speculation, though I share concerns and am surprised of the course of actions or inactions that have taken place to date. Hence my earlier comments.

However I am rest assured that as GP and the US icebreaker is in the area at least there are vessels that can be our eyes and ears on the spot and should anything untoward occur there is assistance at hand, though I am sure the other vessels have got it covered and I wish them Gods speed in their efforts.

Our whalers are filled with much sadness for the young man passed away. As a Japanese citizen,I really thank you for much info about the fire accident.

Strangely enough,Japanese media is rather keeping silent about the accident as if someone requested not to talk about this issue anymore.

I suppose our government is afraid that this accident gives rise to the controversy about whether or not the research is right.

On the other hand,there arises a strong movement against the terrorism of SSCS.

Many Japanese BBSs condemn the terrorism. Below is an article of local paper, Hokkoku Shinbun.




Here is another Japanese article about Makita-san and the reaction of his family and friends:

I have also seen some very critical comments towards the terrorist behaviour on Japanese community sites.

Don't blame the SSCS for the Japanese failures. Maybe if the whalers wouldn't keep their crappy ships out of the whale sanctuary then their would be any Direct Action Conservation against the Japanese. The Japanese brought this all upon themselves.
The Sea Shepherds are not conservationists.
They are an animal protest industry organization with a strictly "animal rights" / preservationist stance.
They campaign against whaling because it raises their profile and money.
There is no conservationist or environmental reason to take action against whaling as currently practiced.

Hi! I agree with you !!
The fire accident might be
due to the terrorist group.

Yeah, I agree that the fire could be started by Sea Shepherd too! Do you know that Paul Watson has Greenpeace lifetime membership numbered 007 (because he was a co-founder of Greenpeace in 1970s). I find it strange that the number is not 006 or 008, but 007 like famous spy has had. Perhaps, the movie character was copied from the image of Paul Watson. That case he is probably more powerful than we could imagine - he must have gadgets. With the help of mini-helicopter covered with invisible material he could fly close to Nisshin Maru and cut up its hull using a laser built into his clock making a path to the low deck where he placed some kind of intellectual bomb. And he safely flew away to his vessels. That should be definitely investigated. That case I would ask ICR to disclose results of investigations without hesitation!
I find it strange that the number is not 006 or 008, but 007 like famous spy has had. Perhaps, the movie character was copied from the image of Paul Watson. That case he is probably more powerful than we could imagine - he must have gadgets. With the help of mini-helicopter covered with invisible material he could fly close to Nisshin Maru and cut up its hull using a laser built into his clock making a path to the low deck where he placed some kind of intellectual bomb. And he safely flew away to his vessels. That should be definitely investigated. That case I would ask ICR to disclose results of investigations without hesitation!

I Strongly aggree.
Paul is a Terrorist!, like Osama Bin Laden, or SADAM HUSSAIN. He has sunk many ships, killed people, he has bribed the worlds police! the www.seashepherd.com website is a LIE!!!!!!

Melbourne you are helping a TERRORIST and PIRATE ESCAPE! The world knows he is a terrorist!
Don't accept his cash offers!!. We know he is rich billionare!!!
ARREST him at once! Sea Shepherd should be bombed by Japan!!!!!!!!
Paul Watson broke into my house and had private moments with my cat! He then used jedi mind tricks to force me into a 38 hour non-stop home shopping network buying binge! I now have a large debt and nothing but 16 cases of cubic zircomium necklaces and a ceramic bust of Robert E. Lee to show for it! When I threated to expose him for the evil terrorist that he is Watson then decided to hide this fact! How? He had Anna Nichole Smith killed and then made Britney Spears shave her head!!!!! Now the gullible world press will not report on his terrorist activities!!! Thh UN must be called in to have a stealth bomber shoot him before he takes over the world!!!
Oh! I am amazed to see many
people are thinking the fire was started by the terrorist group...

I agree that the fire could be caused by Sea Shepherd,too!
Whenever I looked back on the violent history of SSCS,I have no choice but to think the fire is due to SS.

Especially,as widely known, he is proud of destroying the whaling vessels without any hesitation.
To destroy the whaling vessels is
the name of his game.We have to remember this.


Moreover,amazingly,we also found Watson announced he requested his members to kill some delegates from Canada,or ordered to shoot at the Japanese vessel.In short,they are the group of criminals.

To the crazy group,the first priority is for their donation and the second is for the whales.Crazy indeed!
This time,the two missing SS members drifted at the high sea for about 7-8 hours -it is hghly probable this might be their play.
It seems to me they tried to give some damage to Nisshin Maru as possible as they could while they were drifting.

The SS web site shows the Nisshin Maru is described as the "Death Star".It might imply that, alike the movie "Star Wars", the SS members secretly went into the freezer chamber and put dangerous chemicals to set fire.

I would also like to request ICR to disclose results of investigations.If the accident is caused by the crazy group,all of them have to be in jail.




Hey, guys!

What has Paul Watson done to Nisshin Maru that she was not able to move for the last week? They should definitely check for some vegan food in propulsion system. I have 10 year experience of sailing and I can tell you - one cucumber in the boiler, that's it - you get tired before you fix it.



Thank you for the nice news.
The engine of Nisshin Maru
resumed to move!

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