Japanese Government Says No Whaling While Greenpeace is Present

Press release - 21 January, 2008
At a press conference in Tokyo this afternoon the administrative vice-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Toshiro Shirasu told reporters that the whaling fleet has not resumed hunting because Greenpeace is following their fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (1).

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has been chasing the factory ship Nisshin Maru for ten straight days, consequently stopping the entire whaling operation. With the factory ship out of commission, no whales have been killed by the hunter ships as they would not be able to transfer their catch.

"Greenpeace came here to peacefully stop the hunt and that is what we have done. But it is not enough to stop whaling only when the world's eyes are on the fleet and the Esperanza is on its tail,' said Greenpeace Japan campaigner Sakyo Noda, on board the Esperanza. "Tokyo must take the decision to call an end to this whaling season now and make it the last one."

The Japanese government has come under increasing pressure over their whaling programme. Today that pressure increased after Greenpeace Japan Whales Project Leader Junichi Sato wrote an open letter to Japanese business leaders warning of the negative impact that whaling is having on the country's reputation internationally.

Already the New Zealand division of Toyota has condemned whaling and even the former whaling company Nissui, has acknowledged that whaling is bad for business.

The letter states: 'By hunting nearly 1,000 whales including endangered fin whales, by using tax payers' money, under the name of "research" in an internationally recognized whale sanctuary, the Japanese government is creating huge environmental, economic, and diplomatic friction, the negative impact of which many professionals in the economic and financial world in Japan have underestimated.  As Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd. (Nissui), one of the major ex-whaling companies, said, "Involvement in whaling is a business risk." Whaling creates a negative image to the world for Japanese companies and the country itself.

While Greenpeace would not support a boycott of Japanese products (2), there is a strong possibility of boycotts by consumers around the world if Japan's whaling continues in the Southern Ocean. Also, the image of Japan as host and international leader on environmental issues at the G8 Summit, which the Japanese government and your organization announced, has been ruined. The whaling issue could also negatively influence economic cooperation with Australia, and an invitation to hold the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2016."

Other contacts: Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Project leader, Tokyo. Tel: +81-80-5088-2990Dave Walsh, Greenpeace International communications officer on board the Esperanza.Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Whales Project leader, on board the Esperanza. Tel: +873 324 469 014 and +47 514 079 86Photos are available from Michelle Thomas, + 81 903 593 6979 and video from Michael Nagasaka +81 806 558 4447, both in Tokyo

Notes: (1) http://www.maff.go.jp/j/press-conf/v_min/080121.html(2)Greenpeace is not anti-Japanese and therefore does not advocate general boycotts of Japanese goods, but targeted campaigns against individuals and organisations that have the power to influence government policy on whaling.