About Us

What is Iruka & Kujira Action Network (IKAN)?

To Japanese people, where the land is surrounded by the seas, dolphins and whales had long been another inexhaustible resource. However, as the time changed, people's range of activities expanded and it has become clear that human activities are threatening the lives of other animals and that the consequences will affect the lives of our future generations.

Today, marine organisms are faced with many threats such as increasing water temperature due to climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution. Dolphins and whales are no exception, and their lives cast significant meaning to our future as they are the key species in the marine ecosystems that we depend on.

For that reason, we have been actively working towards our goal mainly in Japan to create a world where humans can coexist with other animals including dolphins and whales.

History and Accomplishments

March 1996
Iruka & Kujira Action Network established
To promote protection and better understanding of dolphins and whales in Japanese waters, the network was organized by various interest groups including animal welfare, animal protection, anti-whaling, and dolphin conservation.

October 1996
Uncovered the dolphin drive fishery in Futo,Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Through the newly formed network, IKAN received a report from local divers that dolphins were being chased into a bay. For the first time, the group organizes protests and symposiums, and negotiates with the government, leading to the successful release of bottlenose dolphins that were caught beyond the quota, as well as pilot whales, whose capture was illegal.
Another victory was won when local government presence became a requirement for the dolphin hunt, which was uncontrolled by local administration in the past.

February 1997
IKAN receives a report that orcas were chased into a bay in Taiji. Of ten orcas caught, 5 animals are sent to aquariums. The group actively disseminates the news, and protests at the related administrative bodies and the aquariums grow. The news is widely taken up both within Japan and abroad.

IKAN protests against Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium's plan to open a new annex and keep a pod of orcas, under the campaign "Save Orcas in Nagoya, the Home of Orca Statues." IKAN also provides multiple innovative ideas for the aquarium including the introduction of robot orcas. Later, the aquarium actually acquires a robot orca.

1999 July
IKAN takes part in forming "Network To Establish An Effective Wildlife Protection Law (NEEWPL)" to address problems of the wildlife law revision and to call for more comprehensive wildlife conservation. Nanami Kurasawa of IKAN becomes the first Secretary General of NEEWPL.

1999 October
Inside and outside of Japan video footage of the dolphin hunt that took place again in Futo is disseminated.

IKAN joins the International Whaling Commission (IWC) for the first time with petitions against whaling from 73 different domestic organizations.

For the upcoming IWC meeting in Shimonoseki, with Greenpeace and IFAW, IKAN established the "Whale Conservation Coalition of Japan."

At the roundtable conference of the National Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity (2002 Version) IKAN calls for the protection of marine mammals and succeeds in inserting a clause for "marine mammal protection and management."
IKAN, as NEEWPL, organizes a symposium for the abolishment of the exemptions of Article 80 of the Wildlife Conservation Law, which exempts most marine mammals.

IKAN's report on the increase of dolphin meat stock, resulting from the expansion of research whaling and consumption decline, spreads throughout Japan through the Associated Press. The same report was taken up internationally with over 200 articles due to the press conference IKAN holds at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, just before the opening of the IWC meeting.

On many occasions, such as public hearings, IKAN requests the government to include marine biodiversity preservation in the National Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity (2007 Version).

IKAN joins the NGO Forum hosted by the G8 and calls for marine preservation. At the G8 Environmental Minster Meeting in Hyogo, and calls for better preservation of marine biological diversity and the necessity for international agreements for activities in public seas (in regards to research whaling).

IKAN creates a marine group within the "CBD Citizens' Network" for the upcoming Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) conference, which is to take place in 2010 in Nagoya.

May 2010
IKAN attends the scientific committee meeting of CBD and also organizes a symposium inviting Dr. Lee from the CBD Secretariat, who is in charge of marine issues.

October 2010
At the CBD/COP10, IKAN distributes its position paper on marine issues and the "Fish Guidebook" for Japanese consumers.