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2011-08-30

Minutes of the 2nd Meeting of the Committee on Special Permit Research Whaling ≪5/5≫

(Mr.Tsutsui, Senior Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was seated)

◯Mr.Tsutsui, Senior Vice-Minister of MAFF -
I would like to thank the participants for attending this meeting today and offer my apologies for arriving late due to other business.
Today, as we have with us the Director General of the ICR, which runs Japan's Special Permit Research Whaling, and the President of Kyodo Senpaku, which actually conducts the whaling and sales, I expect we can learn from them the details of the Special Permit Research Whaling program, from the purpose of the program and its current status, to the sales of whalemeat. Despite the suspension of the program this year, we of MAFF are determined to continue the program until it leads to the resumption of commercial whaling, and look forward to clarifying the details and reaffirming the significance of the program today.
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts and understanding of the committee. Thank you. [greetings omitted]
○Anan -
The stocks of whalemeat are shown on page 7. I am well aware that there are some regions with a tradition of eating whalemeat. However, even in such regions the custom is not widespread; and in terms of consumer needs there is a strong tendency away from whalemeat as a source of protein ; I don’t think there is anywhere in the country where consumers insist on eating whalemeat; so, it is only to be expected that stocks should back up.
However cheap you sell whalemeat to raise its popularity, I don’t believe consumption will significantly increase. Instead we have commercial whaling, the coastal whaling, very near the coast, for Baird's beaked whale and cetaceans that are not controlled by the IWC, which can easily meet consumer needs. There is no need to go to all the way to, and risk the dangers of, the Antarctic Ocean and thereby spend huge quantities of money just to continue the Special Permit Research Whaling program.
○Miyahara -
Are there any questions or comments about page 8, the financial situation?
○Takanarita -
Perhaps we should review this topic after we have heard the others..
○Miyahara -
Are there any questions about the final item: harassment and the limits of measures to counter it?
◯Nomura -
[Far Seas Fisheries Division head] Mr Hanafusa said that on February 18 he had been obliged to call an end to the survey. I can understand that if Nisshin Maru were located by SS, it would mean the end of the survey, but I hear that SS left the area to refuel. When the SS ships returned to the area, they would probably quickly find the Nisshin Maru again. Is that right? Once the SS ships left, couldn’t the research vessels have shaken off the pursuit?
○Hanafusa
The answer to your last question is “No”. Normally, once the SS ships left the scene, the survey vessels would try to get as far away as possible, but on February 18, the Bob Barker continued to tail the Nisshin Maru. The chase was 1-on-1. i.e. the factory ship v. Bob Barker. When the other SS ship returned after refuelling, the chase would be 2-on-1, and harassment would become more extreme.
For ten days, from February 9th to 18th, the Nisshin Maru did its best to throw off the pursuit, but could not escape because the Bob Barker was faster than Nisshin Maru. The Bob Barker seems to have a very large fuel tank and can sail for a long time without refueling, and it would not give up the chase.
○Nomura -
Wasn’t one of the roles of the multi-purpose ships to be a decoy, and protect Nisshin Maru by diverting the attention of Sea Shepherd?
○Hanafusa
Because the multi-purpose ship met up with the ships of Sea Shepherd beforehand, it was able to track them and inform the factory ship of their whereabouts.
○Takanarita -
What kind of harassment has been carried out in the North Pacific Ocean recently? I hear there is video footage of harassment against coastal whaling too. What kind of harassment has been carried out there?
◯Mr. Takaya, Specialist, IAD, RMD -
The harassment was especially extreme in Taiji-cho, Wakayama Prefecture. Foreigners blocked car traffic, doggedly following people and taking photos. In addition, last year, the pens where dolphins are kept were cut.
○Takanarita -
Weren’t both these cases about dolphins? In other words, they were nothing to do with the whale research program, were they?
◯Takaya -
So far, foreigners have come to see the whale research program but they did not actually carry out any harassment.
○Takanarita -
How about harassment in the North Pacific?
◯Takaya -
No harassment has been carried out in the Northwest Pacific at this time.
○Takanarita -
Is that because it is physically impossible?
◯Takaya -
No, it IS possible. And according to their website and other sources, Sea Shepherd plan to carry out more harassment.

○Hayashi -
I’d like to discuss the legal issues on pages 10 and 11 starting with the interpretation of anti-piracy laws in the box on page 10. According to the Cabinet decision on the interpretation of the Japanese Anti-piracy Law, the activities of Sea Shepherd do not fall within the scope of the law. I had not been aware of this and was disappointed to hear it. Article 2, Clause 1 of the Law (p.11) refers to "the use of violence or other methods to seize another ship at sea, or to control at will the navigation of another ship". I have long suspected that actions by SS such as throwing objects at the screw count as “control[ing] at will the navigation of another ship.” It also falls under piracy as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). [See reference] I had previously believed that it could be regarded as piracy as defined in the Japanese Anti-piracy Law. Though a Cabinet decision on the matter has been made, I would like, today, to re-affirm my personal opinion that the Law could be so interpreted.
In addition, even if Japanese law does not apply to this case, piracy is widely defined in Article 101 of UNCLOS. It includes all illegal acts of violence. Unlike the Japanese [Anti-piracy] Law, it is not limited to certain closely defined acts such as the taking of hostages and controlling the navigation of another ship. And as it can be regarded in a wider sense as illegal violence, even though Japanese law does not apply, I think that it is still possible to make a diplomatic protest based on Article 101 of UNCLOS. That is my opinion.
○Akimichi -
I assume the Fisheries Agency is aware why Australia filed suit in May to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. To make sure we have the same understanding of the matter, would you please review why the Australian Labour government chose to do this now?
○Hanafusa -
If I remember correctly, a year ago when they were the opposition party seeking election, they made this pledge to appeal to voters. So once they were in power, they were obliged to fulfill that pledge.
○Akimichi -
It was in their manifesto, wasn’t it.
○Hanafusa, -
Last year, the Australian government submitted a petition of about 30 pages warning that they intended to file. Australia and Japan discussed when they would start the procedure. It was decided in July that they would start legal procedures ten months later, so Australia filed its written submission on May 9th, ten months after the decision.
○Sakuramoto -
The second item in document No. 5 says "The Australian government believes Japan’s whaling activities are contrary to its international obligations, in particular, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.” Does this refer to [other kinds of] "Whaling" , or the "Special Permit Research Whaling program"? Can you tell us more about why it is contrary to the ICRW?
○Hanafusa, -
Though I am not permitted to share strictly confidential information, I can tell you that they insist that the Special Permit Research Whaling program is not scientific research but simply unabashed (commercial) whaling.
○Sakuramoto -
Then does the second item represent the “Special Permit Research Whaling program" rather than [other kinds of] "whaling"?
○Hanafusa -
Yes, that is right.
○Sakuramoto -
In addition, "contrary to the International Convention" means it is not scientific, doesn’t it. Does it give any clear reason why it is not scientific? I see something in English here. Is this all there is? [English part of Doc 5]
○Hanafusa,
[The Memorial itself] is a huge document, so I’m sure there is more in there.
○Sakuramoto -
Is the reason why it is not scientific given in the document?
○Hanafusa, -
We have not finished reading this document yet. Even when we finish, the contents must remain strictly confidential, I’m afraid.
◯Nomura -
I hear that Australia has nominated a judge for the ICJ. Will Japan do so too?
○Hanafusa, -
There are fifteen judges, including one Japanese, but no Australian. So to keep a balance, there will be one judge from the each country concerned.
○Nomura -
So the judgment will not be, for example, like arbitration, where three judges participate in the process, then?
○Sakuramoto -
I’d like to confirm one point. 440 whales were caught until 2004 and the number of caught whale has increased since 2005. According to earlier comments, if the number of whales caught increases, will the price of whalemeat inevitably fall?
○Takaya
Yes, that’s right.
○Sakuramoto -
Then, the number of whales caught increased to 440 after 1995, so the price of whalemeat should have fallen lower than it was before. I imagine the price of whalemeat must have fallen even further since 2005. But when looking at the supply and demand of whalemeat, we need also to consider other financial indices. In other words, I imagine the severe recession after 2000 must have affected the price of whalemeat.
○Miyahara -
Do you mean that we should consider the trends of general fish prices? I see. I’ll see what we can do.

----------------------------[end] ----------------------------
Translation
JWCS Volunteer staff: Rie Senba, Kazuo Ishii, Simon Varnam

References:
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
Article 101 Definition of piracy
Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;  (ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).


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Document 4, page 5
The sales mechanism for by-products (副産物の販売の仕組み)
Whalemeat, the by-product of the research, is, after each survey, by order of the Minister of MAFF, under the law, and under the control of the FA, sold, and the proceeds used to cover the expenses of the research.

The current system was installed at the start of the program so that the government could secure the appropriate disposal of by-products according to the ICRW, while holding prices down and guaranteeing revenue to cover the costs of research.

However the prices, set in order to cover costs, have failed to match the needs of the market in recent years and have contributed to the downturn in sales.
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