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 user 2006-06-16 at 4:33:00 pm Views: 37
  • #15667

    Whaling summit setback for Japan
    Japan has unexpectedly lost a key vote at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in the Caribbean island of St Kitts.The pro-whaling nation failed to remove an item from the agenda and prevent discussion on preserving sea mammals.Correspondents say for the moment at least the anti-whaling bloc appears to have retained the balance of power.Japan says it will consider leaving the IWC if it does not move back towards a resumption of commercial whaling.It lost the first vote of the five-day meeting by 32 votes to 30.Japan has spent years lobbying developing nations to join the IWC and wrest power from the majority anti-whaling bloc. Environmental groups accuse these countries of voting with Japan in return for aid, a charge which the Japanese deny.
    The BBC’s environment correspondent, Richard Black, says environmental groups are delighted with the result of the vote.He says they believed a Japanese win on this motion would have had serious consequences for many species of small cetaceans.Not all of Japan’s traditional allies have turned up here and a couple voted unexpectedly with the pro-conservation nations, he says.But our correspondent adds other votes lie ahead and other countries expected to side with Japan may yet turn up.

    The basic argument is the same as it has been for years.
    The self-styled pro-conservation countries led by Australia, New Zealand and the UK believe whales are intrinsically special animals and should never be killed.In the opposition corner is a bloc led by Japan, which sees things differently.Japan’s deputy commissioner to the IWC, Joji Morish*ta, says the organisation has become too concerned with conservation.Speaking on BBC Five Live Breakfast he said many Japanese people felt the IWC was “arrogant” and that whales could be used on a sustainable basis.This meant “science and probably international law” were on the side of the Japanese, he said.”Many of the Japanese citizens thinks that Westerners, [the] outside world, is imposing their own value code on Japan on an emotional basis, and naturally they think they’re bullies or… arrogant.”He added: “Allowing sustainable use of abundant species while protecting the depleted… we don’t see the problem with that. It’s exactly the same as conservation and management of any other wildlife or fishery resources.”But if the argument is familiar, the balance of power this year looks very different.

    Changes possible
    Four countries have just joined, of which three look set to support Japan giving it a majority on paper.That could mean a number of important changes to the IWC.Japan has hinted it may remove programmes aimed at conservation and whale welfare and move towards overturning the 20-year moratorium on commercial whaling, although a vote for resumption of commercial hunting at this meeting itself is highly unlikely.Not every member nation turns up to these meetings, and the actual balance of power will not be known until two key votes scheduled for the opening day.To try to erode Japan’s support, environmental groups have been campaigning in some of the small developing nations which traditionally support Japan.A survey commissioned by WWF suggested there was a majority opinion against whaling in all 10 of the Caribbean and Pacific states in which they polled.WWF is urging delegates from those nations to cast their votes accordingly.