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Minoru Morimoto Commissioner For Japan Opening

MEDIA RELEASE
20 May 2002 – Shimonoseki

OPENING STATEMENT OF MINORU MORIMOTO
COMMISSIONER FOR JAPAN
54th ANNUAL MEETING OF THE IWC

The Government of Japan welcomes IWC participants to Shimonoseki. Organizing Committees, their staffs and many volunteers have worked hard to make your stay here a pleasant one.

Japan’s primary interest is to bring the work of the International Whaling Commission back to the task mandated by its parent treaty, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). The ICRW defines its purpose as “a convention to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.” As required by the ICRW, regulations with respect to the conservation and utilization of whale resources must be based on scientific findings.

Continuation of the moratorium on commercial whaling, particularly in light of the adoption of the risk-averse Revised Management Procedure and the robust status of some whale stocks, is contrary to the object and purpose of the ICRW. Japan has been working vigorously towards the immediate completion of the Revised Management Scheme (RMS) and its implementation to realize sustainable whaling. Japan has made a serious commitment and substantial compromises in order to secure the early implementation of a reasonable RMS. It is now time for other members of the IWC to also compromise in order to complete and implement the RMS.

The Government of Japan has submitted a research plan for cetacean studies in the western North Pacific to the IWC’s Scientific Committee. The main part of the proposed research is to determine what whales are eating, how much and where. Data from these studies will be put into ecosystem models and used to improve the management of all marine resources in the western north Pacific. Whale stocks around Japan are increasing and consuming huge quantities of at least 10 species of fish that are caught by our fishermen. The whale species chosen for the research are abundant and sampling will pose no risk to the stocks. Constructive comments from the Scientific Committee’s review of the proposed research will be considered following this year’s meeting of the IWC and before initiation of the program.

Multi-species and ecosystem models have been recognized by most international fisheries organizations, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, as a necessary means to improve fisheries management. Last year the IWC decided to make the study of interactions between whales and fisheries a matter of priority. Japan's whale research programs are fully consistent with this.

(Page 1 of 2 – Opening Statement by Minoru Morimoto, Japan’s Commissioner to the IWC)
(Page 2 of 2 – Opening Statement by Minoru Morimoto, Japan’s Commissioner to the IWC)

The whale to the Japanese in ancient times was a kind of fish that was thought to be brave and great. Today, along with all other marine resources, whales continue to be viewed as a source of food to be used sustainably. The total protection of all whales irrespective of their stock status as promoted by some members of the IWC and some NGOs is contradictory to Japanese cultural values where whale meat is still eaten and where whales are still revered through religious ceremonies and festivals. This is particularly so for those communities where the local peoples’ lives have depended on whaling activities.

The delegation of Japan looks forward to a constructive and productive meeting. Thank you.

ENDS

For more information and interviews contact Japan’s IWC Media Office
on 0081 90 3103 5840 or 0081 80 3005 7507

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