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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



Wakayama article on IWC 59

To date there hasn't been a very noticeable amount of news in relation to the upcoming IWC meeting in the Japanese media as far as I have seen (only a very brief article from Jiji Tsushin), although a couple of reports from traditional whaling areas have appeared.

Below is my translation of one from a Wakayama news website which came out today.
International Whaling Commission - Annual Meeting in US from 28th

The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will be held from the 28th to 31st of May in the American state of Alaska, at Anchorage. From Wakayama, a group from the town of Taiji, known as the birth place of old style whaling in Japan, will be led by the town mayor, Kazutaka Sangen. Japan has declared a policy of "aiming for a resumption of commercial whaling", but at the present time member nations taking an anti-whaling stance outnumber those nations that agree with whaling, and Mayor Sangen believes that "the annual meeting is likely to be severe".

According to Taiji officials, also from Wakayama prefecture, 4 others besides Mayor Sangen will participate as part of Japan's delegation, including town council chairman Katsutoshi Mihara and the former prefectural head of education, Yoji Ozeki. It is Mayor Sangen's third IWC meeting. Ozeki's participation was requested, as "he has been assisting in the spread of whale meat school lunches, and in the inheritance of whale culture".

At last year's annual IWC meeting in June, the "St. Kitts and Nevis Declaration", which asserted that the temporary pause in commercial whaling (moratorium) that had been passed in 1982 was "no longer necessary", and supporting a resumption was adopted by a narrow margin with 33 votes in favour, 32 against, and one abstention. However, the declaration was not binding, and important decisions such as resuming commercial whaling require a 3/4's majority. Furthermore, since last year's meeting a progression of nations believed to be anti-whaling have joined the organization.

According to the Fisheries Agency, to 36 nations in favour of whaling, there are 40 nations against at the current time, and making for a resumption in commercial whaling is "as difficult as ever".

At this year's meeting, the Japanese delegation plans to request regulated minke whale catches for towns such as Taiji where small scale coastal whaling is conducted. Mayor Sangen says "This is an extremely important annual meeting for whaling regions. I'll be participating as a government committee member, so I'll do my best to appeal our case".

The IWC was established based upon the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which was promulgated in 1948. Japan joined the convention in 1951. According to the Fisheries Agency, there are a total of 76 member nations (as of the 23rd).
I've refreshed my browser to double check, but the IWC membership page still only lists 75 nations as of today, so that 76 figure is either a mistake or the IWC page hasn't been updated. Tanzania was also reported to be planning to join earlier in the year in a Japanese news report, although this hasn't eventuated as of yet. With neither side able to muster a 3/4's majority to impose their will on the remainder, the voting numbers aren't especially significant in real terms, and at least if we go on the Tokyo Normalization meeting recommendations, the pro-sustainable use nations will recommend avoiding divisive voting procedures.

Another of the Japanese media reports was from Ishinomaki. I don't have it on me right now, but as I recall, Mayor Kimio Doi will also apparently be attending the meeting.

It seems like seeking a coastal whaling quota is Japan's primary policy objective this year, but the wider issue of whether the IWC can ever be
normalized to fulfil it's clearly stated mandate is another focus from a medium-long term perspective. If it is still apparent after this meeting that it can't, then in my opinion it's time to get out.

* * *

UPDATE: Found the Ishinomaki article that I was talking about, for readers who are Japanese enabled. Like his Taiji counterpart, Mayor Doi looks to be hoping for the opportunity to express the importance of coastal whaling to the community of Ayukawa.

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