Q&A on Whaling
August 22, 2013
- Q1.What is Japan's position on whaling?
- Japan takes the position that, as with any other marine life, whales are a natural resource and can be utilized as such, so long as this is done in a manner that is supported by the best scientific evidence available to be sustainable.
- Q2.Why does Japan conduct research whaling?
- Japan has been conducting its whale research programs in order to collect the scientific data necessary for sustainable use of whale resources under appropriate management by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), and primarily to provide the collected data and research results to the IWC Scientific Committee. Similar research is carried out internationally for other marine life.
- Q3.Isn't Japan's research whaling illegal?
- No. Japan's whale research programs are conducted for the purposes of scientific research permitted under Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), in conformity with the requirements of the Article. They provide information necessary for sustainable use of whale resources under management by the IWC, such as information on age structure of whale populations, competition among whale species and on the ecosystem of the research areas, to the IWC Scientific Committee. It is to be noted that the ICRW recognizes that continuous collection and analysis of biological data are indispensable to sound management of whaling (ICRW Article VIII(4)).
- Q4.Isn't Japan's research whaling in contravention of the Commercial Whaling Moratorium?
- No. Japan's whale research programs are conducted in accordance with Article VIII of the ICRW, and therefore, are not subject to the Commercial Whaling Moratorium. The Schedule 10(e) of the ICRW required that the Commercial Whaling Moratorium be kept under review based on the best scientific advice, and by 1990 at the latest the IWC was to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the effects of the moratorium and consider modification of the Moratorium and the establishment of other catch limits. Japan's whale research programs have been conducted in line with this provision. (The said review by the IWC is still on-going.)
- Q5.Isn't Japan's research whaling in contravention of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary?
- No. Japan's whale research programs are conducted in accordance with Article VIII of the ICRW and therefore are not subject to the regulation of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary which prohibits commercial whaling.
- Q6.Why has Japan continued research whaling for over 20 years?
- Japan began the whale research programs to contribute to the review of the Commercial Whaling Moratorium by the IWC. Japan's whale research programs have been continuing for more than 20 years because the review by the IWC is still on-going and the scientific results need to be up to date in order to be considered valid.
- Q7.Aren't whale stocks depleted and in danger of extinction?
- No. Although at various points in time some species of whales had been subject to over-exploitation and were seriously depleted. However, certain species, such as the minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean, are abundant enough to be utilized sustainably. At its most recent annual meeting (July 2012), the IWC estimated a population of around 515,000 minke whales in the Antarctic.
- Q8.What are the outcomes of Japan's research whaling?
- The outcomes of Japan's whale research programs, namely JARPA II and JARPN II, are made publicly available, and their scientific value has been acknowledged by the IWC Scientific Committee. They therefore provide a useful contribution to the long-term management of whale resources.
- Q9.Why are lethal methods necessary for whale research?
- Japan's whale research programs combine both lethal and non-lethal research techniques. In addition to information obtained through non-lethal means, information through lethal method is indispensable for understanding increase/decrease rate of whale stocks and thereby properly managing whale resources.
- Q10.Isn't whale meat obtained through research whaling available in Japanese markets?
- Yes. Under Article VIII(2) of the ICRW, Contracting Governments are obliged to utilize any whales taken under special parmits, and thus the sale of whale meat as by-products of research is fully consistent with Article VIII(2) of the ICRW.
(Article VIII(2) of the ICRW)
Any whales taken under these special permits shall so far as practicable be processed and the proceeds shall be dealt with in accordance with directions issued by the Government by which the permit was granted.
- Q11.What is the position of the Japanese Government on whaling issue in the international community?
- Japan has been promoting a better understanding of its position on whaling, and engaging actively in dialogue based on scientific grounds, while demonstrating its compliance with the requirements under the IWC as well as its commitment to principles for sustainable use.
- Q12.Isn't the international community unanimous in its opposition to whaling?
- No. A significant number of the member states of the IWC support the sustainable use of whales and share Japan's views. Several other nations also use whale sustainably.
- Q13.What is Japan's position on the case against Japanese research whaling brought by Australia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)?
- The Japanese whale research programs are conducted for purposes of scientific research, in accordance with Article VIII of the ICRW. In the case before the ICJ, Japan presented all necessary evidence to demonstrate its compliance with international law.
- Q14.Is there a ground for allegation that part of the donations given in support of relief and recovery efforts following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami were used to fund Japan's whale research programs?
- No. The donations made have never been used, nor will never be used, to fund the whale research programs.
- Q15.Isn't Japan's taking of minke whales under research whaling in contravention of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)?
- No. Japan's research whaling programs are conducted in conformity with the provisions of CITES and they do not violate the obligations under the Convention in anyway. In any case, Japan is of the view that whaling issue must be discussed at the IWC, as the most appropriate forum.
Safety at Sea
- Q1.What impact do acts of sabotage by Sea Shepherd have on the research whaling fleet?
- The violent acts of sabotage committed by Sea Shepherd have resulted in reduction of the amount of the scientific data collected. Above all, these acts have directly threatened the lives of crew members and have caused serious damages to the property of research vessels.
- Q2.What measures are taken by the Government of Japan against the Sea Shepherd's sabotage?
- Japan has made repeated requests to the flag states of Sea Shepherd vessels and port states at which these vessels have called, to take effective measures in order to prevent recurrence of violent sabotage. The research organizations have pursued a lawsuit in the United States which is currently on-going.
- Q3.How do other countries view the attempts at sabotage made by Sea Shepherd?
- Notwithstanding the difference of policies on whaling, most countries share the view that the safety at sea must be ensured. Resolutions adopted by relevant international organizations such as the IWC and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reaffirm the importance of the safety at sea .
- Q1.Why is dolphin fishing conducted in Japan?
- This practice is a time-honored tradition in certain regions of Japan. For the people in the regions, maintaining this tradition is viewed as an important part of their cultural heritage.
- Q2.What is Japan's position on dolphin fishing?
- Japan takes the position that, as with any other marine life, dolphins are a natural resource and can be utilized as such, so long as this is done in a manner that is supported by the best scientific evidence available to be sustainable. Dolphins are not subject to management by the IWC and management responsibility lies with each country. In Japan, based on scientific information, on the targeted species, the Japanese Government establishes quotas and dolphin fishing is conducted under appropriate resource management and in accordance with related fishery legislations.