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2 February 2007 - Whale case proceeds despite Japanese Government intransigence      

Whale case proceeds despite Japanese Government intransigence

Sydney, 2nd February 2007                                          

Humane Society International’s (HSI) legal action against the Japanese whalers continues this morning in the Federal Court (9.30AM). HSI maintains that Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd. is breaking Australian law each time they kill a whale in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in the Southern Ocean. HSI is seeking an injunction against the company, but now the Japanese Government has refused to serve the legal documents on Kyodo.

Today’s hearing will focus on the Japanese Government’s refusal to pass the legal documents on to Kyodo, with HSI requesting the court’s permission to serve the documents using other means. “The refusal of the Japanese government to co-operate is far from usual diplomatic behaviour. This is a simple and straightforward process, and has been done countless times over the years for a whole host of different legal cases involving Japanese nationals or companies and foreigners. The willingness of the government to obstruct this case indicates the how far they are prepared to go to defend their whaling industry. ” said Michael Kennedy, HSI Director. “All the obstruction will achieve is to delay completion of the case, allowing the whaler’s time to continue their butchery for the season”.

The ‘scientific whaling’ undertaken by Japan via the loophole in the Whaling Convention (ICRW) is widely accepted as being simply an excuse to conduct commercial whaling. Its importance to the Japanese population has always been under question - whale meat is reported to be stacked up unsold in warehouses while over 95% of the population do not or only rarely eat whale meat and 69% do not support whaling in the high seas (according to a survey commissioned by Greenpeace).

Since the Japanese people appear to be barely interested in whale meat as a food, the position of the Japanese government is incomprehensible, unless taken as part of the bigger picture of Japan’s approach to marine resources on the high seas – they want unfettered access.. With whales as with tuna and other fish, Japan appears to feel entitled to strip the ocean of all its wealth without regard to future generations or the health of the ocean itself” added Mr. Kennedy.

The HSI case is based on the protection given to whales under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC) which also established the Australian Whale Sanctuary in the coastal waters off Australia’s Antarctic Territory. Kyodo Senpaku routinely enter the Australian Whale Sanctuary to kill minke whales (for the first time this year they will also take fin whales, followed next year by humpbacks) and breach the EPBC each time they do so. “The Federal Government was unwilling to prosecute the whalers for breaking Australian law, so HSI stepped in to do the Government’s work”  said Mr Kennedy.


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