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Japan: Whales

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the government of Japan on the illicit trade in whale meat from Japan’s scientific whaling programme. (218422)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not discussed the specific issue of an illicit trade in whale meat from Japan’s scientific whaling programme with the Japanese Government but has taken note of the allegations made by Greenpeace. The Government continue to oppose all forms of whaling apart from some limited subsistence whaling when there is a substantiated need. The UK has also protested against Japan’s whaling operations, which we argue are unjustified, cruel and unnecessary, at every appropriate opportunity. Most recently the UK maintained its strong anti-whaling position at the annual International Whaling Commission meeting which was held in Santiago, Chile, in June 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Japan pressing for the immediate release of the two Greenpeace activists who have been held without charge since 20 June 2008. (218423)

The court procedures being applied in the case of the two Greenpeace activists are standard in Japan, where those suspected of committing a crime can be held for up to 23 days without charge. The Government are unable to get involved in the criminal investigations of another country, but are following the issue closely. We remain of the view that the large-scale killing of whales—under the guise of ‘scientific’ research—is both unnecessary and deeply flawed, from a scientific point of view, and we will continue to make representations to the Japanese authorities on this.