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WWF Applauds Decision By Clinton Administration

Japan's Whaling Expansion Draws Threat Of US Sanctions - WWF Applauds Decision By Clinton Administration

Washington, DC --- World Wildlife Fund (WWF) today praised a decision by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to "certify" Japan for its recent escalation of whaling, setting the stage for President Clinton to impose economic sanctions. The decision was announced this morning at a White House press conference with the president's chief-of-staff John Podesta joining Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

Calling the White House venue for the announcement "unprecedented and a signal that the White House is engaged at the highest level", WWF vice president Richard N. Mott said "Japan's contempt for world opinion on whaling is finally being called to account. It is essential that the President follow through with economic sanctions sufficient to make Japan rescind its reckless bid to revive large-scale commercial whaling."

The certification process gives the president 60 days to notify Congress as to what, if any, steps he deems appropriate. To accompany Secretary Mineta's announcement, the White House issued a directive rendering Japan ineligible for access to a U.S. herring and mackerel fishery that may be opened next year. The directive also instructs that "additional options" be pursued.

Today's announcement caps weeks of diplomatic protest by the U.S. and its allies following Japan’s decision in late July to expand its annual “scientific” hunt of 450 minke whales to include two new species--an additional 50 Bryde's and 10 sperm whales. Despite a global moratorium on commercial whaling, Japan has used a loophole that allows whales to be killed for scientific research, but later sells them as a commercial luxury food.

"This is about sushi, not science," Mott said. "The so-called research that Japan claims to be conducting can all be accomplished through other non-lethal means."

Certification of Japan under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protective Act of 1967 authorizes the President to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to prohibit U.S. importation of any products originating in Japan. On August 30, the State Department announced a series of measures designed to express U.S. displeasure over Japan’s decision to expand whaling activities. These included cancellation of its bilateral fisheries consultation meeting with Japan in September, withdrawing its delegations from next week’s ESCAP and ECO-ASIA meetings and opposing the choice of Japan as the site for the IWC Revised Management Scheme (RMS).

Japan has ignored all international appeals to halt the expanded whaling. On August 21, diplomats from 16 countries held a joint demarche to bring their protest of the expanded whale hunt to Japan's foreign minister in Tokyo.

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