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Planet Ark World Environment News FACTBOX - Key Facts About Whaling in Japan

Date: 12-Feb-07
Country: INTERNATIONAL

Here are some key facts on whaling in Japan:


FROM HAND-HARPOONS TO GUNS

- Hand-harpoon whaling began as early as the 12th century in Japan, the pro-whaling Japan Whaling Association says.

- Antarctic whaling was initially dominated by Britain and Norway, but by 1969, only Japan and the Soviet Union were whaling in Antarctica.


"RESEARCH WHALING"

- One year after the IWC's 1982 commercial whaling moratorium came into force in 1986, Japan began its scientific whaling.

- It cites Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling as giving the right to take whales for scientific research.

- Iceland and Norway are the only countries to ignore the moratorium and conduct commercial hunts.


WHY KEEP WHALING?

- Asking Japan to abandon its whaling culture would be like asking Australians to stop eating meat pies, or the English to give up fish and chips, the pro-whaling JWA says.

- It argues that the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, established in 1994, only bans commercial, not research, whaling.


CONTROVERSY

- Critics say scientific whaling is commercial whaling in disguise. Others say whaling is more of an invented than actual tradition, and is only really supported by a vocal minority of conservative nationalists.

- The JWA says its goal is to answer key questions about whales to better manage them. It says selling whale meat obtained through scientific research is required by a rule stating that research by-products are not wasted.



PUBLIC OPINION:

- Japan's levels of public support for whaling have been a hotly contested issue in the debate. Conflicting polls have been used by various sides to bolster their arguments.

Sources: Japan Whaling Association (www.whaling.jp/english/intro.html), The International Whaling Commission (www.iwcoffice.org), The Institute of Cetacean Research (www.icrwhale.org/eng-index.htm)

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