Japan to arrest anti-whaling activists, newspaper reports
Anti-whaling activists will be arrested if they forcibly interrupt Japan’s whale hunting in the Antarctic Ocean, a report said Saturday.
The fisheries agency and justice ministry made the decision as a boat belonging to the U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society set sail from Australia in a bid to disrupt the Japanese whaling fleet, the Sankei Shimbun said.
Crew members from Japan’s fleet would capture activists and hand them over to the Japanese Coastguard if they board the whalers, the report in the daily added.
If arrested by the coast guard, they would be charged with forcible obstruction of business under Japanese law.
During the last Antarctic hunt, Japan alleged that Sea Shepherd activists tracked down and hurled bottles of chemicals at the fleet to disrupt operations, leading Japan to label them “terrorists.”
Two activists boarded a Japanese whaler in January, sparking a two-day standoff before they were handed over to an Australian customs vessel.
Japan’s fleet set off in mid-November heading for the Antarctic Ocean with plans to slaughter hundreds of whales, despite strong opposition from Australia and New Zealand, where whale-watching is a popular pastime.
Japanese whalers kill about 1,000 whales a year using a loophole in a 1986 global whaling moratorium that allows “lethal research” on the ocean giants.
Tokyo makes no secret of the fact that the meat ends up on dinner tables and accuses Westerners of insensitivity to its whaling culture. Only Norway and Iceland defy the whaling moratorium outright.