Japanese Taxpayers Bailing Out Whalers

Japan has begun injecting new tax-payer-funded subsidies into its whaling program in a bid to keep the fleet afloat, the ABC has learned.

It is believed the “profitable fisheries program” is helping to keep the so-called scientific research program’s ongoing debts at bay and to help refit the whaling fleet’s flagship.

With the Japanese fleet now entering Antarctic waters, the annual whale wars are again expected to flare any day.

Militant Sea Shepherd activists have been able to all but scupper the fleet’s catch over the past few years.

This, plus lower demand for whale meat, means the government has been forced to prop up the whaling program.

Some of the money has come from funds set aside for the rebuilding of communities shattered by the 2011 tsunami.

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Japan Funnels Almost $30 Million in Tsunami Funds to Whaling Hunt

Japan is spending 2.3 billion yen $29 million from its supplementary budget for tsunami reconstruction to fund the countrys annual whaling hunt in the Antarctic Ocean, a fisheries official confirmed Thursday.

Tatsuya Nakaoku, a Fisheries Agency official in charge of whaling, defended the move, saying the funding helps support Japans whaling industry as a whole, including some whaling towns along the devastated northeastern coast. One ship on the hunt is based in Ishinomaki, a town hit badly by the March 11 tsunami, he said.

The budget request was made to beef up security and maintain the "stable operation" of Japans research whaling, he said, which has faced increasingly aggressive interference from boats with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

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Japan Cancelled Annual Whale Hunt

Conservationists were cautiously celebrating today after Japan announced it was suspending its annual whale hunt, claiming its fleet’s safety had been compromised by antiwhaling activists in the Antarctic.It isn’t clear if the order to stop whaling amounts to the beginning of the end of Japan’s annual mission to the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean. But it is the strongest sign yet that international criticism, direct action, and weak consumption of whale meat at home are having an impact.The official line, supported almost without dissent in the Japanese media, is that the actions of the whaling fleet’s nemesis, the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group, have put the crew’s safety at risk.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, fisheries agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku said the fleet’s mother ship, the Nisshin Maru, had been "harassed" by the Sea Shepherd vessel the Bob Barker.The Japanese ship is now reported to be 2,000 nautical miles east of the hunting zone and heading towards Chilean waters in the Antarctic Ocean.Sea Shepherd, meanwhile, says this winter’s campaign has been its best yet. The fleet is thought to have caught only a small number of whales – between 30 and 100 by one estimate – since it arrived in the whaling grounds at the end of December.

Read the rest of the story: Is Sea Shepherds harassment helping to end Japan’s annual whale hunt?.

WikiLeaks show Australia and Japan in secret talks on whaling deal

Fairfax newspapers say documents obtained by WikiLeaks show Mr Garrett’s former chief of staff, David Williams, told the US Australia could accept a deal.

The agreement would have overturned the ban on commercial whaling, in return for Japan reducing its so-called scientific research program.

The deal had the backing of New Zealand and the US in the lead-up to International Whaling Commission talks in the middle of last year.

The documents also show Mr Garrett believed he was more committed to ending whaling than the Australian Government officials who were negotiating with Japan.

Mr Garrett’s office has been contacted for comment.

The latest US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks also show Japanese and US officials discussed ways of reining in the militant anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.

Sea Shepherd has been successful in hampering Japanese whalers during the annual Antarctic hunt.

The cables reveal the US envoy to the International Whaling Commission, Monica Medina, held talks with the head of Japan’s fisheries agency, Katsuhiro Machida, in late 2009.

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Japan slams officials over gifts of whale meat

The Japanese fisheries agency has warned officials not to accept whale meat as gifts from whalers, amid embezzlement allegations involving tax-funded whaling programmes, reports said Wednesday.

The five officials were reprimanded for accepting three to seven kilograms (6.6 to 15.4 pounds) of meat from a private fisheries firm that was contracted to conduct whaling, local media reported, citing agency sources.

The packages of whale meat were estimated to be worth 180 to 840 dollars, Jiji Press said, adding that one of the officials later returned the meat.

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Japan gives anti-whaling activists suspended sentences

A Japanese court has given two Greenpeace anti-whaling activists one-year suspended jail sentences for stealing a box of whale meat in 2008.

They admit taking the box but say they were trying to expose corrupt practices in Japan’s whaling programme, which the country insists is purely scientific.

Commercial whaling is banned worldwide.

Greenpeace says the sentences were "wholly disproportionate" as the defendants had acted "in the public interest and not for personal gain".

via Japan gives anti-whaling activists suspended sentences.

Whale Meat Case Began for Japanese Greenpeace Members – “Tokyo Two”

Two Japanese Greenpeace members known as the “Tokyo Two” began their trail yesterday. They aim to expose as much as they can about the Japanese whaling industry, but for now they are on trail for a case that may end up with them sentenced to jail for 10 years.

Watch the video: Japan whale meat trial begins

Read more about the story: Greenpeace urges for fair trial in Japan whale case