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Japanese Whalers At It Again

Auckland: Giant eyeballs are protesting today at the Japanese consulate in Auckland imploring the Japanese Prime Minister not to send his whaling fleet to Antarctica to kill minke whales.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Sarah Duthie is meeting with the Japanese senior consul, Mr Koichi Yotsaya to deliver a letter for Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi.

In a global day of action Greenpeace protestors converged on Japanese embassies and consulates in 17 countries* to deliver the message "Don't Go Whaling! The World is Watching". Some protestors wore bizarre "eyeballs" over their heads and thousands of people around the world faxed or emailed similar messages to Mr Koizumi.

In Japan, on 2nd November, Greenpeace delivered petitions to the offices of the Prime Minister and to those of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Takana and the Minister of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries, Mr Takebe, demanding that the whaling fleet mot be allowed to leave Shimonoseki.

The Japanese whaling fleet - a factory ship, three catchers and a spotting boat - is due to depart Tuesday or Wednesday from Shimonoseki, Southern Japan and will travel to Antarctica to kill 440 minke whales. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has asked the Japanese government to "halt the lethal takes of whales." The IWC has designated Antarctica a whale sanctuary.

Minke whales appear to be in decline. IWC scientists are unable to agree on how many whales are left. Scientists say the minke population may have suffered a precipitous decline over the past decade.

Today's protests highlight the threat of Japan ending the moratorium on commercial whaling. Japan has admitted using overseas aid to buy support from developing countries in the Caribbean and elsewhere.** Of the 14 IWC member countries opposing the IWC's plea to Japan, nine were developing countries implicated in the vote buying scandal. A Caribbean Prime Minister has admitted his country sells its vote to Japan.***

Greenpeace says the Japanese government is intensifying its efforts to build a majority before the next IWC meeting in Shimonoseki in May 2002. "Japan wants a return to high seas whaling with factory ships, and it's willing to use bribery to get it," says Greenpeace oceans campaigner Sarah Duthie. "If the global community doesn't stop Japan rigging the deck at the IWC we'll see a return to the sort of whaling that devastated whale populations all over the globe."


Ends

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