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Japan blocked on whaling at highly contentious talks

Japan blocked on whaling at highly contentious talks

Anti-whaling nations sent Japan crashing to a third straight defeat on Saturday at world whale talks soured by rows over cruelty and the moratorium on commercial hunts.Japan did, however, come close to pulling off a symbolic victory in a vote on one type of for-profit slaughter, and predicted it was closer than ever before to enshrining a pro-whaling majority at the International Whaling Commission.
Australia meanwhile ignited a new row with Tokyo, branding Japan's whale hunters "inhumane" and "disgusting" while environmentalists, who entered the five-day talks fearing a Japanese power grab, were buoyant.
"It's Whales three, Japan nil," Patrick Ramage of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said after the IWC voted 31 votes to 30 against Tokyo's bid to allow several of its coastal communities to hold for-profit hunts.
It would have only been an academic victory for Japan since the Minke Whale cull would have been barred anyway under a global moratorium on commercial hunting, which needs a three-quarters majority to be overturned.
But a win would have been a huge symbolic step forward for Japan, as it strives to lead pro-whaling nations to a majority on the IWC and turn the body from pure conservation to managing whale stocks for hunting.
"Double standards still prevail in this organization," snapped Japan's alternate commissioner Joji Morishita, after the vote count was announced on the day two of the five-day meeting in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Australia, which is furiously opposed to whaling, meanwhile waded into a new confrontation with Tokyo, claiming new research showed whales experienced far more agony than previously known when they were harpooned to death.
Environment Minister Ian Campbell brandished a new IFAW report which he said disproved Japan's argument that its "scientific" whale hunts, allowed by the IWC, were humane.
"This is how Japan in the name of science collects whale meat, takes it back to Japan, sticks it in warehouses, tries to get schoolchildren to eat it, gets old people to eat it now, and we also know from some evidence that they feed it to dogs," he said.
Morishita hit back that Japan's whale killing was "the most humane way, it is proved by science."
"I just wonder if the minister knows how long it will take for kangaroos to die in his country?" referring to attempts to control the marsupials seen as pests in parts of Australia.
Another Japanese official, Akira Nakamae, deputy director general of the Fisheries Agency of Japan, accused Campbell of "ungentlemanly conduct."
"It is bad manners and it will downgrade his country's standing in the international community," Nakamae said.
The IFAW report claims that more than 80 percent of whales were not killed instantly, once harpooned. It also said some whales were asphyxiated after failing to die from a harpoon blow, and having their blow holes forced underwater.
Japan earlier unveiled its new bid to return the IWC to its original mandate, of conserving whales so that they can be hunted in a sustainable way.
"Whales should be treated as any other marine living resource available for harvesting subject to conservation and science based management," said a Japanese briefing document on the plan known as "normalization."


Updated : 2021-10-20 17:59 GMT+08:00