Will whaling be on the agenda when Japan’s PM visits Australia, New Zealand?

Will Tony Abbott and John Key raise whaling with Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, when he visits our region? Image Source: Office of Tony Abbott.Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, will visit our region next week, as our countries look to make progress on trade deals and other matters.

What’s not so clear, however, is whether whaling will be on the agenda when the Prime Ministers meet. Rumours suggest it will be on John Key’s agenda when Mr Abe visits New Zealand.

No comment as yet from Prime Minister Abbott here in Australia. Mr Abbott has already turned down opportunities to raise whaling with Mr Abe in previous meetings of the two Prime Ministers.

When the two last met, immediately following the International Court of Justice’s historic decision to strike down Japan’s current whaling in the Antarctic, Mr Abbott said Japan should ‘appropriately reflect’ on the decision.

Initial signs were good.

Japan, with its reputation as a strong upholder of international law at stake, said it would abide by the World Court’s decision.

Sadly though, it seems in that time to reflect, pro-whaling forces in Japan have been more determined than ever to launch a new whale hunt in the Southern Ocean in 2015/16. Upping the ante considerably, Mr Abe himself said he wants to aim for a resumption of commercial whaling by conducting ‘research’ whaling.

So with this shift in rhetoric from the Government of Japan post-ICJ judgment, coming right from the top, how will the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand respond? Will they speak up to defend their countries’ hard-fought victory in the World Court?

We don’t want to leave that to chance.

You can send a message to Mr Abbott via his website. Ask him to raise the issue of whaling with Mr Abe when the two meet next week. Ask him to reflect the 9/10 Australians who vehemently oppose whaling. Ask him to advise Japan not to damage its international reputation further by thumbing its nose at the world’s highest court.

If you’re in New Zealand and you want to make sure whaling is on John Key’s agenda for his meeting with Mr Abe, you can leave a message for Mr Key here.

Mr Abbott has described Japan as our closest friend in Asia. And we’re not naïve enough to think that the meeting won’t be firmly focused on trade. But pursuing trade and talking about whaling are not mutually exclusive. The great thing about being best friends is that you can have a difficult conversation about something like whaling without it damaging that relationship.

Let’s hope Mr Abbott takes inspiration from a leader of another country, former US President, Benjamin Franklin, who famously said: “Critics are our friends, they show us our faults.”

Not to raise the issue directly with Mr Abe will be remiss with an Australian public that has consistently backed successive Australian governments in their strong stance and actions against whaling.

-- MC

Send a message to Tony Abbott, asking him to raise the issue of whaling when he meets Mr Abe. To send the PM a message, you have to use this form on his website.

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