Japan and Australia agree to sidestep conflict over whaling

Kyodo

Japan and Australia agreed Friday to make efforts to prevent their whaling dispute from hurting bilateral relations, a government official said.

During talks in Singapore, Foreign Minister Taro Kono briefed his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop about Japan’s proposal to restructure the International Whaling Commission to make it easier to resume commercial whaling.

But Australia is strongly opposed to all forms of whaling, raising concern that ties between Tokyo and Canberra could be strained by a practice that Japan says is a cultural tradition.

Last month, Japan proposed resuming whaling of some species of relatively abundant whales. The government halted commercial whaling in 1982, in line with the global moratorium adopted by the IWC, but has hunted the mammals since 1987 for what it calls “scientific research purposes.”

In September 2014, the IWC adopted a resolution saying Japan should abide by the International Court of Justice’s ruling earlier this year that its “scientific whaling” program was illegal and should be halted.

Bishop and environment minister Josh Frydenberg released a joint statement on Thursday condemning the proposal to lift the global moratorium on commercial whaling.