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Editorial: Sea Shepherd agreement not enough to defend Japanese whaling

  • August 26, 2016
  • , Sankei , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), a U.S. anti-whaling organization, has agreed through arbitration by a U.S. federal district court to permanently stop obstructing scientific research whaling by Japan in the Southern Ocean and other waters.


SSCS’s obstructions include ramming high-speed boats into Japanese ships and throwing dangerous chemicals into whaling vessels — radical and malicious acts that endanger the lives of the crew members. It goes without saying that such acts should be prohibited under the U.S. judicial system.


It is overly optimistic, however, to think that Japan will continue to be able to go on peacefully conducting scientific research whaling. In addition to the U.S., SSCS operates in countries such as Australia and intends to continue carrying out acts of obstruction.


The international community still lacks sufficient understanding about scientific research whaling. Japan must continue to justify its research whaling to the world based on laws and scientific evidence.


The Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) and another Japanese organization that conducts scientific research whaling filed a lawsuit five years ago with a U.S. federal district court in the State of Washington, calling for prohibiting obstruction by SSCS.


In 2013, a U.S. court ordered a temporary injunction to suspend SSCS’s obstructions as “the embodiment of piracy.” But the organization ignored the order and continued to obstruct Japan’s whaling. As a result, SSCS was charged with contempt of court and ordered to pay 300 million yen in compensation to the ICR.


With the latest agreement, the SSCS and its founder Paul Watson are prohibited from attacking or approaching Japanese research vessels in international waters, as well as from financing obstructions by other SSCS groups.


Although it was thought that filing a lawsuit in an anti-whaling country such as the U.S. would be disadvantageous for Japan, the latest agreement can be said to have achieved a certain level of success. Under the agreement, however, the plaintiffs are required to return some of the compensation money to SSCS as part of the settlement. It is incomprehensible that the compensation money has to be returned


The plaintiffs should use judicial procedures to appeal to international opinion by taking the resolute stance that violence will not be tolerated under any circumstances.


“The latest agreement will not affect our activities,” said an Australian official of the SSCS. “We will resort to every possible means to stop whaling.” If the Australian government shares Japan’s respect for the rule of law, Canberra will not overlook SSCS’s obstructions. Japan’s scientific research whaling season will start at the end of this month in the Southern Ocean. It remains to be seen whether SSCS will comply with the agreement.


The international community continues to be critical of scientific research whaling.


Japan needs to patiently explain to the world that in order for whales to survive for the ages, scientific research whaling is essential in order to study its ecology and population. The government’s overarching diplomacy is being tested. We hope the administration will address the issue with a sense of responsibility.


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