Whaling? Not with our taxes!

Posted by jossc — 9 March 2009 at 4:13pm - Comments

Not With Our Taxes! from Greenpeace on Vimeo

Despite the worst recession in a generation, Japanese government officials arrived at the intersessional meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Rome this week still determined to defend a multi-billion yen whaling programme that is reviled by the international community and unwanted by taxpayers at home.

In February, Japanese exports fell by 45 per cent compared with the same period last year, key industries are cutting both costs and jobs, and gross domestic product (GDP) dropped 3.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2008. Japan has been so severely stricken by the financial crisis that last week it was reported that its government had been forced to cut the cost of making the silver sake cups which are traditionally presented to centenarians.

Yet, the government of Japan is stubbornly refusing to consider cancelling the Southern Ocean whaling programme, which costs the taxpayer billions of yen each year. When we conducted random street interviews in Toyko recently (see the video above), the overwhelming response was surprise and shock that the programme existed, and a wish that it would be shut down and the money used more wisely.

In addition to the 1.2 billion yen annual taxpayer subsidy for the whaling programme, billions more are spent as part of the government's foreign aid budget to recruit countries to the International Whaling Commission. The Institute for Cetacean Research, which devises the so-called research programme, has outstanding loans to the government of 3.2 billion yen.

Here at Greenpeace we're convinced that the whaling programme is both a scientific sham and an economic disaster. The future of the International Whaling Commission will be debated this week in Rome; in reality the only sustainable future available to it is one that protects whale populations, promotes non-lethal research and invests in real conservation of marine life.

Japan needs to realise that spending a fortune needlessly killing whales and endangering the pristine Antarctic environment does not look good, and wins it few friends. Least of all (as we can see from the video) those Japanese taxpayers who are becoming increasingly angry at the profligate way in which their money is being squandered in the name of unecessary 'research' during a recession.

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

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