Friday 11th December, 02:01 PM JST
SYDNEY — Australia’s prime minister threatened legal action against Japan on Friday if it does not stop its research program that kills up to 1,000 whales a year.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s comments came as the Australian Broadcasting Corp quoted Japan’s Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada saying in an interview that Japan has no plans to halt its whale killing expeditions in the Antarctic.
“We don’t accept Japan’s premise for those terms of so-called scientific whaling,” Rudd told Australia’s Fairfax Radio Network. “If we cannot resolve this matter diplomatically, we will take international legal action. I’ve said that before—I’m serious about it.”
Japan’s whale hunt is allowed under international rules as a scientific program, despite a 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Whale meat not used for study is sold for consumption in Japan, which critics say is the real reason for the hunt.
On Thursday, ABC broadcast an interview with Okada in which he said the expeditions would continue.
“We do not think there is a need for a policy review at this point in time,” Okada said, according to ABC’s translation of his comments from Japanese to English. “I think we should try to discuss it without emotion and in a very calm way.”
A staunch anti-whaling nation, Australia has threatened international legal action against Japan before. Two years ago, it sent a ship to Antarctic waters to follow the Japanese whaling fleet and collect video and photographs it said might be used as evidence in an international forum. So far, the threats have not been followed up.
ABC reported that Okada made no mention of scientific research in the interview and defended the program on the basis that eating whale meat is a key part of Japanese culture.
“I think food is an important element of culture and therefore there is a need to mutually respect and recognize each other’s culture,” Okada said, according to ABC’s translation. “It might be that there is something Australians eat that the Japanese do not. Of course, it would be a different story if those species were endangered species on the verge of extinction. But if not, I think the average Japanese would like to continue consuming whale meat into the future.”
Japan’s foreign ministry in Tokyo declined to confirm the accuracy of the quotes.
Source: Japan Today
I'd like to check the validity of the quotes before I make any judgements, really. But if they're true? Wow. Chewbacca defense in action. "You're driving whales into extinction!" "Well, perhaps there is something the Australians eat that the Japanese do not!"