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WikiLeaks Docs: US and Japan Conspired to Legalize Whaling and Stop Sea Shepherd

Leaked Cable Communications Reveal Discussions on How to Legalize Whaling

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Butchered Whale
Koichi Kamoshida / Getty Images
Updated January 05, 2011

Documents released by WikiLeaks reveal discussions between the U.S. and Japan on how to thwart the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's anti-whaling campaign and legalize whaling. Highly controversial, Sea Shepherd engages in direct action to counter whaling efforts, including sabotage. Their website lists their accomplishments on behalf of whales, including:

  • Ramming and disabling the notorious pirate whaler, the Sierra
  • Shutting down half of the Spanish whaling fleet
  • Scuttling half of the Icelandic whaling fleet and whale processing station
  • Scuttling of the Norwegian whaling vessels Nybraena and Senet
  • Confronting and opposing Japan's illegal whaling in Antarctica

With all of their actions, it should be noted that Sea Shepherd has never killed or even harmed a human being.

Some claim that Sea Shepherd is ineffective at saving whales. However, a January 27, 2010 cable communication from the American embassy in Tokyo makes it clear that Sea Shepherd has been highly effective at stopping the Japanese whalers from meeting their quotas, and is even increasing domestic opposition to whaling:

Turning to harassment of the Japanese whaling fleet by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), Yamashita said the NGO's actions have kept the fleet from reaching its quota the last few years. Yamashita said the GOJ would come under pressure domestically if SSCS harassment continues to keep Japanese whalers from filling their quota

The Japanese government hates Sea Shepherd so much, they even asked the U.S. government to revoke the group's tax-exempt status in a November 2, 2009 cable. One week later, the U.S. representative to the International Whaling Commission, Monica Medina, "said she believes the USG can demonstrate the group does not deserve tax exempt status based on their aggressive and harmful actions."

Also evident in the WikiLeaks documents is the cooperation between the U.S. and Japanese governments in an effort to legalize commercial whaling, which was already known. The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, but Japan continues to kill whales under the guise of scientific research. Japan also imports whale meat from Iceland and Norway, and has been pushing a proposal to legalize commercial whaling by agreeing to a temporary reduction in the number of whales killed. In a November 9, 2009 cable, Japan says that once a compromise with the U.S. is reached, the U.S. government "would then work hard to make sure the EU and Australia do not block a compromise" to legalize commercial whaling.

While there are misleading headlines like, "Failed Agreement Between USA and Japan to Reduce Whale Hunting," keep in mind that the temporary reduction was just one part of a plan to legitimize commercial whaling and open the door to increased quotas in the future.

The following paragraph from Sea Shepherd's response to the leaked documents says it all:

The U.S. government may have very well looked into Sea Shepherd's activities and if they did so, then they obviously did not find any irregularities or unlawful activities because Sea Shepherd was never contacted by any U.S. government official in connection with this matter. For Sea Shepherd, the most important part of this document is the declaration by Japan that Sea Shepherd has been responsible for the whaling fleet not reaching their quotas for the last few years. This statement completely validates Sea Shepherd's actions as effective.

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