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Japan uses quake disaster budget for whaling

TOKYO -- Japan on Wednesday confirmed it planned to use some of the public funds earmarked for quake and tsunami reconstruction to boost security for its controversial annual whaling hunt.

Greenpeace charged that Tokyo was siphoning money from disaster victims by spending an extra 2.28 billion yen (US$30 million) on beefed up security amid looming battles between the whaling fleet and environmental groups.

Japan's whaling fleet left port Tuesday for this season's annual hunt in Antarctica, with the coast guard saying earlier that it would deploy an unspecified number of guards to protect it from anti-whaling activists.

Fisheries Agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku said the extra security was designed to ensure safer hunts, and ultimately help coastal towns that largely depend on whaling to recover from the March 11 disasters.

“The government will support the reconstruction effort of a whaling town and nearby areas,” he told AFP Wednesday.

“This program can help it reconstruct food processing plants there ... Many people in the area eat whale meat, too. They are waiting for Japan's commercial whaling to resume,” he added.

In February, Japan cut short its hunt for the 2010-2011 season by one month after bagging only one-fifth of its planned catch, blaming interference from the U.S.-based environmental group Sea Shepherd.

Last month, Japan passed a 12.1 trillion-yen extra budget, the third this year, to finance post-quake reconstruction and revive the economy reeling from the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

About 498.9 billion yen was earmarked for fisheries-related spending, including 2.28 billion yen for “stabilizing whaling research.”

“We will bolster measures against acts of sabotage by anti-whaling groups so as to stably carry out the Antarctic whaling research,” the fisheries department said after the budget was passed.

Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty but Japan has since 1987 used a loophole to carry out “lethal research” on the creatures in the name of science.

Japan says it is necessary to substantiate its view that there is a robust whale population in the world, but makes no secret of the fact that whale meat from this research ends up on dinner tables and in restaurants.

Anti-whaling nations and environmentalist groups routinely condemn the activity as a cover for commercial whaling.

December 9, 2011    chindoo@
My wife is Japanese and I love Japan. But this is unacceptable. Shut down the whaling!!!! Japan should be on embargo not Iran.
December 14, 2011    curtisakbar@
Japanese eating whales, East Asians eating shark fin, Koreans eating dogs, Europeans eating battery cows and chickens, the only people who can take the moral high ground are Jains and other true vegans. I'm not against eating any animal if it is done in a humane and sustainable way. Shark fin, eat all the shark not just the fins, make sure they come from a stable source that is safe to eat. Whales and dolphins, likewise. Just make sure it is humane and sustainable and the animals don't suffer in their death.
December 15, 2011    carltanong@
This time I agree with curtisakbar. But monk Dalai Lama should discipline himself to STOP eating beef steak, or anything that has blood.
December 15, 2011    mtsai16@
@ carltanong

You're my favorite comedian here.
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