Japan blames whaling foes for collapse of talks

Japan`s fisheries minister has blamed anti-whaling nations for collapse of talks.

Updated: Jun 24, 2010, 14:15 PM IST

Tokyo: Japan`s fisheries minister on Thursday blamed anti-whaling nations for the collapse of talks in the International Whaling Commission and questioned whether Japan should stay in the forum.
Negotiations in the 88-member body on the future of commercial whaling broke down Wednesday at its annual meeting in Morocco, with pro- and anti-whaling nations unable to break a decades-long deadlock.

The countries had been debating a draft deal to suspend a 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling for 10 years in return for Japan agreeing to gradual cuts in the number of whales killed.

"Japan has made as many concessions as it can, which was a time-consuming, substantial effort," said Farm and Fisheries Minister Masahiko Yamada, public broadcaster NHK reported.

"If we still cannot come to an agreement, I have to question whether Japan really has to stay in such fruitless discussions," Yamada told reporters.

But foreign ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama told reporters: "While it remains unclear how the negotiation will develop, the government of Japan intends to take part in the negotiations in a persistent manner."

Japan, along with Iceland and Norway, has continued to use legal loopholes to sidestep the 1986 global whaling ban, harvesting more than 1,500 of the marine mammals in the 2008-2009 season alone.

Many anti-whaling nations -- Australia, Britain, Germany and most of Latin America -- have called on Japan to halt hunting in Antarctic waters.

Japan had agreed to scale back its hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, but not to reduce the kill to zero. Major environmental groups blamed Japan for the breakdown of talks.

Bureau Report