Tokyo, Japan, 6 December, 2011 – Greenpeace joined other Japanese non-governmental organisations today in publically condemning the Japanese government’s increased financial support for its “scientific” whaling fleet (1), as it departed for the annual hunt in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. In an open letter to the Government, the group demanded that the increasingly huge subsidies wasted on this unneeded and unwanted programme be scrapped; with falling demand for whale meat and thousands of tonnes in frozen storage, the money would be better spent on funding the ongoing recovery from the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Japan’s government has this year provided the whaling operation with an extra subsidy of ¥2.28 billion (US$30 million), on top of the existing US$10 million annual subsidy. This additional subsidy was pushed through parliament as part of the Fukushima recovery package, but it will not help the recovery effort in any tangible way as it is most likely to be spent servicing the whaling industry debts (2).
“Not only is the whaling industry unable to survive without large increases in government handouts, now it’s siphoning money away from the victims of the March 11 triple disaster, at a time when they need it most,” said Junichi Sato, executive director of Greenpeace Japan. “This is a new low for the shameful whaling industry and the callous politicians that support it”.
Japan’s whaling industry has been crippled by plummeting national demand and has cut costs by shortening the season and reducing the number of ships catching whales. Despite the reduced catch size, the lack of demand is causing the whale meat stockpile in Japan to continue rising (3), leaving the industry with ¥1.9 billion (US$24 million) in mounting debt that it could not service until the new injection of taxpayer money arrived.
“Japan’s whaling programme is already a black mark on the country’s international reputation; the government should focus on recovery at home rather than continuing this shameful Antarctic whale hunt,” said Sato. “It is time for the Japanese government to do the right thing by its people, the international community and the environment by committing to drop its financial support for the whaling industry for once and for all”.
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace. Greenpeace is opposed to commercial whaling in all of the world’s oceans.
Greg McNevin, Greenpeace International Communications, , +81 80 5416 6507
Steve Smith, Greenpeace International Communications, , +66 819 298 707
Yuki Sekimoto, Greenpeace Japan Communications, , +81 80 5088 3048
Greenpeace International Press Desk Hotline, Amsterdam +31 20 7182470
1) 18 organisations have now signed the statement questioning the necessity of subsidies for the whaling programme including International Fund for Animal Welfare Japan (IFAW), the Iruka & Kujira (dolphin and whale) Action Network (IKAN), Japan's Environmental Lawyers Federation and the Consumers Union of Japan: http://bit.ly/u1saVJ
2) The Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) description of the subsidy increase can be found (in Japanese) at: http://www.jfa.maff.go.jp/j/budget/23_hosei/pdf/9-2.pdf
3) Graph of demand for whale meat: http://bit.ly/t1Xxuv