• Kyodo


Japan and Norway failed Wednesday to win enough support for limited resumption of commercial whaling after antiwhaling countries at the International Whaling Commission blocked Japan’s resolution for the IWC to lift parts of a ban.

Japan’s delegation accepted “with regret” the lack of consensus at plenary talks and agreed to shelve the proposal until the IWC meeting next year.

But the deputy head of Japan’s delegation, Masayuki Komatsu, Japan’s assistant IWC commissioner, accused antiwhaling countries like the United States, Britain and New Zealand of deliberately delaying discussions on the issue, which is being tackled under the topic of the Revised Management Scheme.

The RMS is a set of scientific and legal guidelines to govern commercial whaling, including new catch limits. Work on the RMS, which is seen as replacing the moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by IWC in 1982, has been delayed for years.

Komatsu claimed antiwhaling countries’ request for information on the time it takes to kill whales and other welfare data are just part of “delaying tactics.”

Norway stressed the repeal of the moratorium should be part of the process of completing work on the RMS.

Despite the defeat of the proposal, Japan’s Fisheries Agency Deputy Director Joji Morishita told a press conference Japan saw “some progress” in the talks.

He said Japan welcomes with some reservation the resolution from Sweden and nine other countries calling on the secretary of the commission, in consultation with the chair, to prepare a draft text for circulation by Nov. 30 containing amendments that would incorporate the RMS.

The resolution also asked the working group on the RMS to reconvene by the end of February to work on the draft.

The resolution was adopted by the IWC but noted some reservations expressed during floor deliberations.

Morishita said Japan has not lost hope that limited commercial whaling can be resumed but admitted the only way that could happen is for new members more friendly to Japan’s position to come into the IWC, or for the antiwhaling countries to drop their opposition.

The IWC has 41 members, but only 35 have voting rights.

Meanwhile, antiwhaling countries strongly urged Japan to shelve its so-called “research” program in the North and South Pacific. Japan, however, laid out a plan before the IWC to catch more whales this year.

Countries including Australia, the U.S., New Zealand and Britain urged Japan not to issue special whaling permits to its nationals under a legal loophole in the IWC’s rules that allows for the catching of whales for “scientific research,” in two proposed resolutions.

Japan caught 439 minke whales in the South Pacific from December to March and says it intends to catch 50 Bryde’s whales and 10 sperm whales in the North Pacific, in addition to 100 minke whales.

In their resolution, the antiwhaling countries said major concerns remain that Japan’s proposal “did not address questions of high priority relevant to management, did not make full use of existing data and revealed many methodological problems.”