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Participants at a global wildlife conservation conference on Thursday rejected Japan’s revised proposals to lift an international ban on trade in minke whales.

The decision was made at a plenary session of the conference of signatory countries to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), known as the Washington Treaty. The conference began Nov. 3 and will end Saturday.

Japan’s call for lifting the international bans on commercial trading in minke whales caught in the Northern Hemisphere and Bryde’s whales caught in the North Pacific was rejected at a committee meeting Nov. 8.

Japan revised its proposal in response to this rejection, calling for an end only to the ban on commercial trading in minke whales caught in the North Pacific, and presented this at the plenary session.

Similar proposals were also rejected in 2000 at the Washington Treaty conference in Nairobi.

Japan was expected to try its luck again at a plenary session Friday by calling for lifting the ban on commercial trading in Bryde’s whales.

Participants whose proposals are turned down at a committee meeting are allowed to revise the proposals and put them to a vote at a plenary session.

Minke and Bryde’s whales are not endangered species, according to Japan, which maintains that lifting the commercial bans wouldn’t affect their stocks provided monitoring systems for illegal whaling are established.

The United States, Australia and other countries argued the trade bans should not be lifted until the International Whaling Commission sets up a new system to assess whale stocks.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Georgia’s proposal for lifting a ban on commercial trade in bottlenose dolphin caught in the Black Sea was approved at the plenary session.

East Sea makes waves

SANTIAGO (Kyodo) The secretariat of an international convention on wildlife conservation said it will stop referring to the Sea of Japan as the “East Sea/Sea of Japan” during an ongoing meeting here Thursday.

The secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora issued a notice saying it will withdraw an earlier statement that contained the dual reference and will remain neutral in the dispute between Tokyo and Seoul on what to call the body.

Seoul want maps to use both terms, saying the use of Sea of Japan stems from Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of Korean. Japan claims that name has been used since the late 18th century.

In the earlier statement, the secretariat explained that it decided to use the name East Sea/Sea of Japan in the meeting’s documents in line with advice from such international bodies as the International Hydrographic Organization.

According to conference officials, the decision was made because South Korea objected to documents submitted by Japan listing the body of water only as the Sea of Japan and requested that the secretariat also include the name East Sea.

But Japan strongly opposed the use of South Korea’s name for the waters and its delegates at the meeting urged the secretariat to withdraw the statement, claiming it contained a factual error and that the name Sea of Japan is internationally accepted.

Seiji Morimoto, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Multilateral Cooperation Department, told the meeting Wednesday that the IHO did not issue advice on using both names.

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