Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said that there will probably no end to whaling in Japan, in spite of the sometimes violent objection from conservationists. He believes that the criticism of the whaling practice is “a cultural attack, a kind of prejudice against Japanese culture”.
Japan has always claimed whaling as a cultural tradition and along with Norway and Iceland, are the only nations that have defied the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling. Japan has used a loophole on the international ban by using the whaling expeditions as “scientific research” although admittedly, the whales end up as culinary treats. Australia and New Zealand have continually voiced fierce objections to Japan’s annual expeditions in the Southern Ocean, which is considered a whaling sanctuary by the International Whaling Commission.
Aside from worldwide criticism, the whaling fleet also deals with sometimes violent confrontations on the sea with militant conservationists like the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which for the past years has chased off the whaling fleets in Antarctica in an attempt to stop the slaughter of the mammals. Their latest confrontation on the icy waters last Monday saw the two sides accuse each other of ramming its vessels. Sea Shepherd has also accused the fleet of spilling oil in Australian waters. The Japanese government meanwhile has protested the activist’s latest “stunt” which saw Sea Shepherd’s ship Bob Barker position itself between two Japanese ships to stop them from refueling.[ via The Journal ]