January 8, 2009

Australia Anti-Whaling Activists Go Against Japan’s Wishes

Australia has denied a Japanese appeal to stop anti-whaling activists from stocking up; announcing Thursday that their boat is permitted to dock at an Australian port prior to returning to Japan, where they will continue to fight whalers.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that there is no point for Australia, who is against whaling, to assenting to Japan's demand, chancing any more diplomatic arguments with Tokyo.

"The Steve Irwin will be permitted to dock at an Australian port. There is insufficient reason to prevent the Steve Irwin from doing that," Gillard announced.

The Sea Shepherd Society's flagship "Steve Irwin" is in route to the Australian port of Hobart, and Japan's whaling convoy requested that Australia's government withhold docking privileges.

Fleet officials blamed Sea Shepherd of meddling with a hunt for a sailor thought to have drowned Monday after falling overboard into the ocean.

Ship title-holder Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha commands that affiliates of the International Whaling Commission, or IWC, which implements a worldwide whaling suspension, take a stand against Sea Shepherd and reject aid.

Company President Kazuo Yamamura's command appears to be aimed at at New Zealand and Australia, where Sea Shepherd has maintained company and where its has public approval.

Australia and Japan had a conflict last year over another whaling issue, when Australia sent a customs icebreaker to observe and record the yearly "scientific" gathering with the motivation to take Japan to an international court in an attempt to stop it.

Japan will most likely feel the pressure to stop whaling at the IWC meeting next week in South America, where anti-whaling countries will dispute that the yearly harvest of the 1,000 whales is a menace to a fragile species still recuperating from near-extinction.


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