• Kyodo

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Britain on Thursday urged Japan to abandon its campaign to restore commercial whaling as pro- and antiwhaling camps gear up for next week’s plenary session of the International Whaling Commission.

British Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley issued the appeal before heading to Japan for the annual session, scheduled to open Monday in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. Scientific and other meetings of the organization are currently under way there.

“This is not about cultural differences. It is not about the West trying to impose its beliefs. It is about conservation, animal welfare and the exploitation of the marine environment,” Morley said in a prepared statement.

Morley acknowledged that Britain and Japan “are poles apart” on the commercial whaling issue, which is expected to dominate the five-day IWC session.

Japan and other prowhaling countries are urging the IWC to lift a 17-year-old moratorium on commercial whaling. The proposal has faced strong opposition from the antiwhaling camp.

“Whaling is quite simply cruel. There is no consistently reliable, quick and easy way to ensure that whales are killed instantaneously. It can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours for a whale to die once it has been harpooned,” Morley said.

The British government also announced it will support proposals to establish two new whaling sanctuaries, one in the South Atlantic and the other in the South Pacific.

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