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Greenpeace response to reports of a reduction in the Japanese government whaling quota

Press release from Greenpeace | November 27, 2008

Tokyo, Japan - According to news reports in Japan this morning, there will be a 20% reduction in the number of whales targeted in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary hunt this year - the first reduction since 1987.
"We are seeing the beginning of the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."
- Sara Holden, Greenpeace spokesperson

The report in Asahi Shimbun cites lack of demand for whale meat, pressure from protests at sea and the continued opposition from Europe and Australia as reasons for the reduction in the minke whale quota from 945 minke whales to 750. The quota of 50 endangered fin whales remains unchanged.

"We are seeing the beginning of the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," said Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Whales Campaigner "If today's reports are true we congratulate the Japanese government for making this first step, but they can and must go further and we will not stop until the quota is zero."

The news follows hard on the heels of Greenpeace revelations that the industry has been unable to crew this year's voyage with an all-Japanese crew for the first time, that the traditional ceremony seeing the fleet off from Shimonoseki has been cancelled, and that 'Yushin,' the flagship whale meat shop and restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo, will close shop in 2010 due to ongoing financial problems. (1)

Greenpeace has sent ships to interfere with the hunt in the Southern Ocean nine times since the Japanese government research whaling programme in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary began 20 years ago, including keeping them on the run for more than two weeks last season.

Opposition inside Japan is also growing. Earlier this year two Greenpeace activists in Japan were arrested for exposing corruption within the whaling programme. The political prosecution of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki has been denounced by Amnesty International and, in a periodic evaluation completed last month, the United Nations Human Rights Committee severely reprimanded the Japanese government for the "unreasonable restrictions placed on freedom of expression" in Japan. It also condemned the abuse of trespass laws by Japanese police to harass activists who are critical of government policy.

"The extreme reaction by the authorities shows Greenpeace's work in Japan has put the whaling establishment under pressure" said Jun Hoshikawa, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan. "The whale meat market has clearly collapsed and is unprofitable, and the stigma of scandal and corruption has made it an unattractive and less lucrative industry to work for. The whaling industry's days are numbered, and it's time for the Japanese taxpayer to demand the government stops subsidising this bankrupt programme."

Article has been adapted from a news release issued by Greenpeace.

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