President Bush to Meet with Japan Prime Minister Koizumi: Conservationists say, “tell Japan to stop whaling”

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Washington, D.C.
Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, is set to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday, June 29, 2006 here in Washington, D.C. Conservation organizations, led by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org, are calling on President Bush to use the opportunity to tell Japan to end its whaling activities.

Despite a global moratorium on whaling set by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986, the government of Japan continues to hunt more than 1,000 whales a year as part of what it calls its government-run “scientific” whaling program. While the IWC has condemned Japan’s whaling practices, a loophole in its policy allows for lethal whale research. Japan sells the meat from its whaling operations to commercial restaurants and fish markets.
 
Just last week at the 58th annual meeting of the IWC, a Japan-led voting bloc pushed through a vote on a statement outlining its call for the resumption of the global commercial whaling industry – essentially creating a roadmap to the rebuilding of the whaling industry.
 
Japan’s whaling program has drawn criticism from the international community for decades, but recently, increased criticism from within Japan itself has emerged.
 
David McNeill reports in the June 24, 2006 issue of The Independent newspaper in London that: 

  • In a written reply to a query on Japan's "marine-aid" to developing countries, the government has acknowledged donating 617 million yen (pounds 2.9m) last year to St Kitts and Nevis, the Caribbean nation that hosted the IWC conference. Japan also gave pounds 5.6m to Nicaragua, while the Pacific island cluster of Palau got pounds 2.7m.
  • The aid question was tabled by Shokichi Kina, a member of the opposition Democratic Party. “Japanese people don't even eat whales or dolphins any more but still the government is pressing ahead," he said.

IFAW President Fred O’Regan said: “The world has stood by long enough watching the current Japanese administration flout international conventions and the world’s views on whaling. President Bush needs to step up to the plate now to send a clear message to Japan that this whaling needs to stop. Japanese whaling fleets are out there hunting whales – right now – it has to end.”
 
IFAW U.S. Country Director, Greg Wetstone said: “The U.S. has positioned itself as a world leader on whale conservation issues. If the nation is to preserve this reputation, President Bush must use this opportunity to push the issue with Prime Minister Koizumi – and to call for an end to whaling once and for all.”
 
To make your voice heard in support of whales, visit IFAW’s campaign website www.stopwhaling.org today.

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