OPENING STATEMENT OF MINORU MORIMOTO
COMMISSIONER FOR JAPAN
AT THE 53rd ANNUAL MEETING OF
THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION
At the outset, I would like to thank the Government of the United Kingdom for hosting this 53rd Annual Meeting of the
International Whaling Commission.
This meeting is a critical one for the IWC. It can implement the risk-averse management procedure recommended by its own
Scientific Committee that will provide safe quotas for abundant whale stocks or, it can continue to delay such action
for emotional and political reasons.
IWC decisions based on emotion and politics are not compatible with science or international law including the ICRW. We
urge those members who have maintained a position against the resumption of whaling, irrespective of the science and
irrespective of the objective of the ICRW, to reconsider their position. Outside the IWC, there is support for the
resumption of whaling on a sustainable basis. The principle of sustainable use is accepted worldwide and whales are a
resource just like other wildlife. This Commission should support the use of abundant whale resources consistent with
the Convention and sustainable use principles of the UNCLOS, UNCED, the Kyoto Declaration and FAO’s International Action
Plans as well as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
Clearly, completion and implementation of the RMS must be the priority for this meeting of the IWC. It must be an RMS
that is consistent with the terms and scope of the ICRW and it must be an RMS that is realistic to implement and be paid
for by all members of the Commission.
Misinformation: There has been a lot of misinformation concerning whales but perhaps the worst case of misinformation
has been the criticism of Japan’s whale research programs that have been labeled as “illegal whaling” and “commercial
whaling in disguise”. Members of this Commission should know that contrary to these claims, Japan’s whale research
programs are perfectly legal under Article VIII of the ICRW and that the Commission’s Scientific Committee has commended
both the quality and quantity of data from these programs noting that they are providing valuable information for the
management of whale stocks.
Research: Scientific research is an essential part of conservation and management of all marine resources including
whales. The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling requires that its regulations “shall be based on
scientific findings”. That is why Japan is continuing its whale research program in the Antarctic which is the only
long-term study providing information on the role of whales in the ecosystem and the effects of environmental changes on
whales. We are also conducting the second year of Phase II of our research program in the North Pacific this year. The
priority for this research program is feeding ecology involving studies on prey consumption by cetaceans, prey
preferences of cetaceans and ecosystem modeling. Japan’s whale research programs pose no risk to the whale populations.
Consumption of fish by cetaceans: The matter of competition between marine mammals and fisheries is now of serious
concern for nations dependant on fisheries as well as for a number of global and regional fisheries management
organizations including the FAO which have urged the development and implementation of ecosystem approaches to the
management of marine resources. Recent estimates are that cetaceans consume 3 to 5 times the amount of marine resources
harvested for human consumption. Since fish consumption by cetaceans often competes directly with fisheries, it is clear
that without serious consideration of this matter, efforts to responsibly manage the world’s fisheries resources may be
seriously undermined. We therefore welcome the IWC’s attention to this matter.
Normalization of the IWC: The Government of Japan’s position on the other substantive matters to be discussed at this
year’s meeting has not changed. We are therefore steadfast in our conviction that the Commission must get back to its
primary purpose, based on the provisions of the ICRW. It is the view of Japan that the normalization of the IWC would be
facilitated if the use of secret ballots which are commonly used in other international organizations and which are a
fundamental principle of democracy were introduced to the IWC procedures. Membership limited to countries with a real
interest in fisheries management and increased membership of developing countries would also help to normalize the IWC.
Sanctuaries: It is the view of the Government of Japan that the proposals for the establishment of sanctuaries are a
part of the misinformation about whales and whaling. These represent a political attempt to subvert the purpose of the
ICRW and undermine more than a decade of work by the Scientific Committee and the Commission to develop a risk averse
system for managing the sustainable utilization of abundant whale resources. While the ICRW provides for the
establishment of sanctuaries, it requires that such measures be necessary to carry out the purpose of the Convention and
that they be based on scientific findings. The proposals for a South Pacific Sanctuary put forward by Australia and New
Zealand and the proposal by Brazil for a sanctuary in the south Atlantic clearly do not meet these requirements and
should be rejected.
Conclusion: Japan is not urging other members of the IWC to take up commercial whaling, but we cannot accept their
denying us the right to sustainably utilize abundant marine resources in a manner consistent with the treaty that
governs the work of this Commission.