WAKAYAMA – The Wakayama Prefecture town of Taiji, known for its whale and dolphin hunts, said Wednesday it is establishing a sister-city relationship with a town in the Faroe Islands with similar traditional practices.
Taiji and the Klaksvik in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic are the only communities in the world that practice the controversial drive-hunting of cetaceans. Both towns have had their operations obstructed by anti-whaling groups such as Sea Shepherd.
In drive-hunting, fishermen herd cetaceans into a cove and seal off the area with a net. The hunting practice has drawn international criticism.
Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen is scheduled to visit the Faroe Islands from Aug. 22 with officials of the Fisheries Agency and sign a sister-city agreement together with Klaksvik Mayor Jogvan Skorheim, officials said.
Their partnership is aimed at boosting the voices of whaling communities amid rising pressure from anti-whaling groups, they added.
A draft sister-city agreement says the two towns will “promote sustainable use of living marine resources including cetaceans.” It adds they will also “strengthen friendship and contribute to the world as leaders of sustainable utilization” of those resources.
Taiji and Klaksvik are also planning exchanges in the fields of education and tourism, according to the draft.
Klaksvik’s mayor is expected to visit Japan early next month and meet with Foreign Minister Taro Kono, the officials said.