[Joint Statement] Stop All Research Whaling

In Response to the Announcement of the Commencement of The Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the North (JARPN II)

April 22nd, 2014
Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network
Greenpeace Japan                                                 

On March 31st, the International Court of Justice ruled that the Japanese government should not grant further permits for the research whaling program in Antarctica (JARPAII) concluding that the purpose of the program is not scientific. Although the government of Japan stated that it would abide by the court’s ruling, on April 18th it announced its intension of carrying out coastal research whaling and the Japanese Research Whaling under Special Permit in the North (JARPNII) with a reduced catch quota this year. The government also announced that it would implement the next fiscal year’s research whaling in both the Antarctica and the Northwest Pacific, with a change in the research plans. These announcements came as a result of decisions made at the Agriculture and Fisheries Committee meetings on April 16th and 18th in the Upper and Lower Houses, where they voted in favor of continuing whaling.


Problems of JARPN II

             The problems of JARPA II pointed out by the court also apply to JARPN II. For example, the actual catch does not reach the catch quota deemed necessary for scientific research, even though there is no obstruction from anti-whaling groups in the Northwest Pacific. This is likely due to the “production adjustment” for species that either has excess stock or has not much demand for its meat (*1).


             In addition, the sei whale, whose catch quota was lowered from 100 animals to 90 in the recent change of JARPN II plans, is an endangered species designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and 21 world renown scientists posted a protest statement in the New York Times in 2002 when the species was first included in the research plan.

The purpose of JARPN II is no longer clear. Building an ecosystem model, which was the JARPN II’s initial objective, is so problematic that the incompleteness was even pointed out by domestic fisheries scientists at the fisheries symposium in November 2010.  Furthermore, the government has already retracted the argument that “whales will eat all the fish” – the Japanese delegates told the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 2009 that the government never stated that whales would eat all the fish and that they were merely investigating the possibility of such a relationship.

Even though the court ruling was specifically on JARPA II, JARPN II’s scientific legitimacy should also be challenged.

Problems of Coastal Whaling Research

Aside from the far-seas research programs, the government of Japan has been running coastal research from 2000 and entrusting the operation to small-type whalers. These whalers have organized a coalition to promote local whaling and to serve as the main body for the research.

    100 minke whales were given as the quota at the time of establishment, and since 2004, the quota has been 60minke whales each in the spring and the fall terms in Ayukawa and Kushiro, respectively. Samples from the catch are sent to the Institute of Cetacean Research, and the whale meat is sent to the market as fresh meat. This outsourcing of research is thought of as government support for coastal whalers who suffered from bad sales of toothed whales and degraded business conditions as a result of the expansion of the Antarctic and the Northwest Pacific operations.

The catch quota for coastal minke whales did get lowered from 120 to 100 for this year’s operation, however this figure is based on the actual catch number seen in the past few years, so it should not be considered as compliance to the court’s ruling.

Looking at how the operation is done, the purpose of coastal whaling is can hardly be thought of as ‘scientific.”


In Response to the ICJ Decision

Research whaling already lacks pretext for the resumption of commercial whaling. It is very clear to everyone’s eyes that these operations are not “whaling for the purpose of scientific research” but “whaling for the purpose of whale meat supply.”

The whale meat market has shrunk and there is very little demand for the meat in Japan. It is true that in certain regions the whale meat is used, but these demands should not be maintained by pushing irrational research programs or promoting whale meat import from abroad, and should be stopped immediately. 2000 tons of endangered sei whale meat is scheduled for import from Iceland in May of this year.

So much national benefit has been lost already for a handful of congressmen trying to secure a voting bloc and a handful of government officials trying to maintain cozy relations with the industry. In addition, by openly flouting actions without scientific purpose as “science” leads to Japan losing its science credibility. We call for an end to all research whaling, using this court decision as an opportune chance.

*1) JARPNII changes in actual catch


Reference: Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network, Current Status of Small-type Coastal Whaling, 2009. http://ika-net.jp/images/pdf_files/cwr20090301.pdf