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Japanese PM Defends Whaling, Protesters Still Held

January 25, 2008 07:06 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Protesters who boarded a Japanese fishing vessel near Antarctica are still in detention. In a unusual move for a Japanese politician, Prime Minister Yasuo Fakuda defended whaling.

30-Second Summary

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Every winter, Japan sends boats out to capture whales for what the government alleges are research purposes.

The whaling vessels usually fish in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. But such activities have been condemned in the West.

The prime minister's comments in parliament were a response to a recent development when two protesters boarded a Japanese whaling vessel, on Jan. 15. The government accused their group, Sea Shepherd, of an "act of piracy," according to Time.

No whaling is going on while the activists remain on board. Japanese officials accused Sea Shepherd of trying to damage the boats' propellers, and throwing bottles of acid at them. Sea Shepherd denied this, and accused the crews of assaulting the activists and holding the protesters hostage. Japan ridiculed those charges.

An Australian court last week ruled that the Japanese expeditions violate Australia's Environmental Protection Act. However, Japan is one of a number of countries that refuses to recognize Australia's jurisdiction over the Southern Ocean.

Critics describe Japan’s annual research as a thinly disguised commercial whaling industry.
Conversely, some Japanese see the environmentalists as arrogant Westerners trying to assert their own cultural values abroad.

Other Japanese fishing practices have drawn criticism, as well. Last fall, a small group of protesters tried to protect dolphins from fishermen off the coast of Japan. The fishermen trapped the protesters and used a boat hook to get them away.

Many countries throughout history, including the United States, hunted whales, though most have discontinued the practice. However, Japan isn’t the only country that still does. Iceland, in 2006, decided to resume commercial whaling after years of hunting whales for research. Norway is another whaling nation.

Headline Links: ‘Protesters Crash Whale Hunt in Japan’

Reactions: ‘Japan PM Defends “Scientific” Whaling’

Reference Material: Japanese Public Support for Whaling

Related: Hollywood takes on Japanese fishing; other whaling nations

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