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Cablegate: Whaling: Goj Full Speed Ahead

VZCZCXRO4416
PP RUEHMJ
DE RUEHKO #0234 0292249
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 292249Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1343
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0478
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1953
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1017
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2513
RUEHRK/AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK 0164
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 1171
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0652
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 4386
RUEHMJ/AMEMBASSY MAJURO 0079
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 1072

UNCLAS TOKYO 000234

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/J and OES/OA - MHAYES/JFIELD
USDOC FOR NOAA/NMFS - US IWC COMMISSIONER HOGARTH AND McCARTY

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EFIS KSCA IWC ETRD JA
SUBJECT: WHALING: GOJ FULL SPEED AHEAD

Sensitive but Unclassified. Please handle appropriately.

1. (SBU) On January 25, Greenpeace's vessel "Esperanza" ended its
shadowing of the Japanese research whaling fleet in the Southern
Ocean due to lack of fuel, a Greenpeace official in Tokyo confirmed.
She told EconFSN the NGO will continue its campaign against Japan's
whaling activities, but for now that campaign will no longer include
pursuing the Japanese research whaling fleet. A Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MOFA) official reported that on January 23, the Ministry
had asked the Netherlands, which registers the "Esperanza", to
prevent a repeat of the ship's attempts to obstruct the fueling of
the Japanese whale processing ship. In addition, the Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society's vessel, according to a front page article in
the Sankei Shimbun January 28, soon will exhaust its fuel supplies
as well, likely ending this year's high seas drama between Japan and
anti-whaling NGOs. The Fisheries Agency of Japan confirmed press
reports that Japan Coast Guard officers have been on board the
Japanese whaling factory vessel the "Nisshin Maru" to videotape
anti-whaling activities and provide for the crew's safety.

2. (SBU) Discussions continue in diplomatic channels, however.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koumura and Agriculture Minister
Wakabayashi both raised whaling with Australian Trade Minister Crean
during his January 23 - 25 visit to Tokyo. According to press
reports confirmed by the Australian Embassy, Crean did not discuss
specific actions in regards to the GOA's opposition to Japanese
whaling practices, but stated "the whaling issue must not spill over
into other cooperative bilateral relations." Australian Foreign
Minister Smith is expected to discuss whaling during his January 31
- February 1 visit to Tokyo in addition to the Australia/Japan
Economic Partnership Agreement (i.e., a bilateral free trade deal)
and climate change.

3. (U) While Australia and MOFA have worked to compartmentalize the
whaling issue in their bilateral relations, Japan's press has
stirred up thinking that whaling might spill over into the G-8
Summit, hurting Japan's credibility on environmental issues and
posing a security threat to the Environment Ministerial. The Tokyo
Shimbun ran an article January 28 by Nakahiro Iwata asserting that
the GOJ is concerned the international community is more critical of
Japan's research whaling than of environmentalists' interference
with Japan's whaling ships. Iwata reported the GOJ is taking steps
to prevent the issue from becoming a problem in the run-up to the
G-8 Summit. He quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura as saying
"we will make sure to take appropriate steps so that dangerous
actions will not be repeated toward the G-8 Summit." The January 28
Sankei Shimbun article accused New Zealand and Australia of
providing "rear area support" to "eco-terrorists" attacking the
Japanese whaling fleet. The paper also reported Japan's National
Police Agency is collecting information on anti-whaling activists
and quoted Hyogo Prefecture police as saying it will have to
strengthen security from the land, sea, and air for the G-8
Environment Ministerial in May 2008.

SCHIEFFER

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