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US takes first step toward sanctions against Japan

U.S. takes first step toward sanctions against Japan for whaling program

WASHINGTON, September 13—The White House today officially began the process for imposing economic sanctions against Japan for its continued whaling program. Greenpeace commends President Clinton and Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta for taking this first crucial step in response to Japan’s expanded whale hunt. This year, the hunt in the North Pacific adds two species currently on the U.S. endangered species list, Bryde’s and sperm whales.


“Despite intense pressure from the Japanese government,” said Audrey Cardwell of the Greenpeace oceans campaign, “the White House stood its ground and sent a clear message to Japan — end your whaling program and your defiance of international conservation treaties. Now our supporters will pressure the U.S. Government to take the next step of imposing economic sanctions.”


Secretary Mineta’s letter of certification detailed a long history of problems with Japan over their “scientific” whale hunts where the “researched” whales end up as high-priced delicacy foods on the Japanese gourmet market. “This is the third time Japan has been certified for so-called scientific research whaling,” said Secretary Mineta in the letter. “The first was in 1988, when Japan initiated its Antarctic program that now entails an annual take of 440 minke whales. The second was in 1995, after Japan extended its program to the North Pacific, where it has been killing 100 minke whales per year. This spring, Japan proposed an expansion of the North Pacific program, to include the take of 10 sperm whales and 50 Bryde’s whales.”


Mineta's certification of Japan today under the Pelly Amendment to The fishermen's Protective Act of 1967 triggers a process for the president to consider trade sanctions against Japan and report any actions he may take to Congress within 60 days. President Clinton has directed his cabinet to

report back to him prior to the end of the 60-day period. The Departments of Treasury, Commerce, State, Interior and the U.S. Trade Representative will look at additional measures, including such steps as ensuring that items imported into the United States do not include any whale by-products.


Greenpeace is now urging that this process not lose momentum, but proceed to sanctions as soon as possible. Japan is also facing growing charges of extortionary vote buying by offering aid to developing countries in return for votes at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), other conservation bodies, and even the United Nations.

“The Japanese government has been allowing a desperate and dying industry to jeopardise its respect and position among its allies and trading partners. It is time the leaders of Japan took control of its foreign policy and relegated an unnecessary industry to the pages of history where it belongs,” said Cardwell. “Japan does not need these whale products.”


Several delegations of Japanese government officials were in the nation’s capital, today as well, exerting pressure and threaten the possibility of a W.T.O. court case against the U.S. if it takes this action.


CONTACT: Audrey Cardwell, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner, 1 202-258-5234 (cell), 1 978-283-1339 (work); Aaron Bannon, Media Officer, 1 202-319-2432.


Malcolm Wren Actions & Communications Co-ordinator Greenpeace New Zealand

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