New Zealand leads protest against Japanese whaling plan

Wellington, Dec 7 (IANS) New Zealand is leading a joint diplomatic protest over Japan’s decision to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean, Prime Minister John Key said on Monday.

“New Zealand and other concerned countries today (Monday) sent a strong message to Japan over its resumption of whaling in the Southern Ocean, delivering a formal message in Tokyo expressing their opposition,” Xinhua quoted Key as saying in a statement.

“A total of 33 countries, including the US, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and the EU member countries, were represented at today’s demarche, expressing concern over Japan’s actions.”

On November 27, Japan announced it would resume its Southern Ocean whaling programme, with the whaling fleet departing on December 1.

Monday’s protest, led by New Zealand’s Ambassador to Japan, urged Tokyo, as a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to respect the commission’s procedures and the advice of its scientific bodies.

“We consider that there is no scientific basis for the slaughter of whales and strongly urge the government of Japan not to allow it to go ahead,” said Key.

“New Zealand has repeatedly expressed its opposition to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. We will continue to work to see this outdated practice brought to an end.”

In March 2014, the International Court of Justice found that Japan’s “scientific” JARPA II whaling programme was not for the purposes of research and must cease.

The following September, the IWC passed a New Zealand resolution enshrining the court of justice decision and imposing limits on future scientific whaling permits, requiring non-lethal alternatives to be considered for any approved scientific research on whales.

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