• Kyodo

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Miyagi Gov. Shiro Asano launched spirited whaling diplomacy at the annual International Whaling Commission meeting, which opened Monday in Berlin.

Undeterred by strong antiwhaling sentiment surrounding the four-day IWC gathering, Asano spoke up on the touchy issue in a series of meetings with government delegates and the media to press his cause — the bond between local culture and whaling.

Asano talked to anyone who would listen, and his listeners so far included Renate Kuenast, the German minister of consumer protection, food and agriculture, and Australia’s minister for environment and heritage, David Kemp.

Watching whales from sightseeing boats is fine but whale-watching can coexist with whale-hunting, Asano said.

The whaling pitch by a little known Japanese governor attracted the attention of the foreign press. To them, Asano’s message was: Whaling is a local tradition, as well as part of Japan’s culture.

Asano made his case at the meeting, delivering a speech on the link between communities and whaling.

Asked about the speech, Asano said his aim was not to rebuff arguments by antiwhaling countries but to convey the message that whaling is closely associated with some communities.

On Tuesday, Asano plans to join a debate with college students in Berlin, ready to speak up for whaling before an antiwhaling audience.

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