TOKYO: A proposal to create a whale sanctuary in the southern Atlantic lacked “scientific backing”, Japan said yesterday after leading the charge to scupper the plan at an international meeting.
“Japan carries out whaling on scientific grounds,” said Shigehito Numata of the Japanese Fisheries Agency’s whaling section. “The proposal lacked scientific backing.”
Japan and its allies on Monday shot down the Latin American-led suggestion at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Panama, reigniting international tensions over Tokyo’s whaling programme.
But Numata said the Japanese government had no regrets. “We consider the defeat was appropriate,” he said.
The IWC, which has long been torn by disputes, fell into familiar divisions just hours after officials opened the main session of their week-long annual meeting in Panama City.
Argentina, Brazil, SA and Uruguay put forward a proposal to declare the southern Atlantic a no-kill zone for whales, a largely symbolic measure as no whaling takes place there now.
Thirty-eight countries voted in favour and 21 voted against, with two abstentions. Under the rules of the commission, proposals need 75 percent support for approval.
In the wake of the vote, objections were raised about the make-up of the “no” camp, with Japanese financial aid seen as the prime motivation for some countries to raise objections to the plan. –