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Japanese government faces criticism from its own people over new whale hunt plans

In an unusual press event today, Japanese government officials faced criticism from within the country over plans to resume commercial whaling, which is currently banned by the International Whaling Commission (the body that regulates the hunts).

The panel discussion took place between Kiyoshi Ejima representing Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, Shigeki Takaya, director of Whaling Affairs Office at the Japanese Fisheries Agency and Nanami Kurasawa, secretary general of the Dolphin and Whale Network who has been campaigning against whaling since 1987.

The debate quickly moved on to some uncomfortable areas for those representing the whaling industry in Japan, with questions from journalists present focusing on the dubious need for the new law and the huge sums of public money spent on hunting.

The pro-whalers were probed on how much money will be spent on the new whaling programme when there are other important issues like welfare for ageing society in Japan that need funding, why hunting continues when there is no substantial market for the meat, and one Japanese journalist questioned the flimsy explanations given for the hunts by the government and asked what the plans were that justify such tax money investments.

Dolphin and Whale Network’s Nanami Kurasawa criticized the government’s handling of the creation of the new hunting laws pointing out that only handful of policy makers were involved in the drafting process, that no time for responses was set aside and that there is not broad support for whaling in Japan.

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