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David @ Tokyo

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Japanese media build-up for IWC 59

A handful of Japanese media shops are running stories on the IWC 59 meeting today.

Here's my quick translation of today's Tokyo Shinbun Editorial:

IWC meeting - Argue for science-based whaling


At the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) annual plenary in Anchorage, USA beginning on the 28th, the offensive from the anti-whaling nations who have increased through new recruits looks likely to intensify. Japan should calmly and persistently argue for a whaling resumption on scientific grounds.

Last years meeting in June was an epoch-making new for the nations arguing in favour of sustainable whaling. "The commercial whaling ban is no longer necessary. We must normalize the IWC, which has become dysfunctional", said a resolution adopted by a single vote. Taking this on board, this spring Japan held an IWC Normalization meeting in Tokyo.

However, the anti-whaling nations haven't taken this sitting down. In addition to holding their own meeting of mainly western nations, they also moved to acquire new recruits to the commission. So far Cyprus, Croatia, Slovenia, Ecuador, and Greece have all joined "under U.S. and European influence" (government source). Through their increase in number, the anti-whaling nations are poised to take control of the IWC meeting.

At this year's meeting, in addition to the approval of aboriginal subsistence whaling by people such as the Inuit, the anti-whaling nations will propose the creation of a new whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic. For it's part, Japan is set to put forward a request for a small-scale coastal whaling quota in the western North Pacific, in order to revive traditional whaling practices. Neither side has the 3/4's voting majority required for the proposals to be approved, so the result looks likely to be a stalemate.

The greatest reason for the continuing confrontation is the rigidness of the anti-whaling nations. In reflection of past over-exploitation, the IWC agreed to completely ban commercial whaling in 1982. Ten years later, the IWC's Scientific Committee established the Revised Management Procedure (RMP). This development showed that if the procedure were applied to minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean, the species would not be depleted through the annual catch of 2,000 minke whales for the next 100 years.

However, before this was implemented, the anti-whaling nations argued that an international observer system and other measures were required, and demanded the establishment of a Revised Management Scheme (RMS). Then with discussions in their final stages last year, they moved to stop the discussions themselves, saying that "the completion of the RMS would lead to a resumption of commercial whaling".

The anti-whaling nations, led by the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand have a policy of wild animal conservation. Once recoveries in these resources is recognized, there is no reason to deny discussions. The IWC was originally established in 1948 as an organization with the aim of conserving whale resources and making for their sustainable use. Japan should endeavour towards the normalization in co-operation with other nations such as Norway, Denmark, and Russia.

Regarding the operation of the meeting, Japan is aiming "avoid holding votes on every issue, but seek to secure mutual trust as much as possible amongst contracting governments". The direction of stressing discussions is correct. Japan should be persistent in arguing for sustainable whaling. Additionally, Japan should seek to receive co-operation from the US, Australia and others with regards to deterring extreme obstructive actions towards the research whaling fleet.

The Nikkei business daily also ran a brief story:
Japan to propose commercial whaling resumption - rough sailing in discussions at IWC meeting

The International Whaling Commission (IWC)'s annual meeting will open in Anchorage, USA from the 28th (29th, Japan time), running for 4 days. Japan will put forward a proposal asking for the resumption of commercial whaling on minke whales within Japan's coastal waters. At last years' meeting, a declaration saying that the pause in commercial whaling was not necessary was adopted by a single vote majority, but with the number of anti-whaling voices increasing once again this year, discussions on the resumption look likely to make little headway.

Japan has been putting whaling resumption proposals to the IWC for 20 years, since 1988. It is emphasizing the similarity of the proposal to those of the aboriginal whalers of places such as the USA, which even the anti-whaling nations recognise, by including provisions that the meat of the whales hunted be limited to local consumption.

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