Japan on whaling deal: we like the part where you give us concessions

The International Whaling  Commission unveiled a new proposal today that would lift the blanket ban on commercial whaling while reducing the number of whales caught each year by Japan, Iceland, and Norway and further regulating the trade . Japan’s response has essentially been, "we like that lifting the ban part": Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu, while ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images
OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images
OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

The International Whaling  Commission unveiled a new proposal today that would lift the blanket ban on commercial whaling while reducing the number of whales caught each year by Japan, Iceland, and Norway and further regulating the trade .

Japan's response has essentially been, "we like that lifting the ban part":

Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu, while welcoming the endorsement of coastal whaling, said: "Regarding the total catch allowed, it is different from Japan's position. We want to continue negotiating with patience."

The International Whaling  Commission unveiled a new proposal today that would lift the blanket ban on commercial whaling while reducing the number of whales caught each year by Japan, Iceland, and Norway and further regulating the trade .

Japan’s response has essentially been, "we like that lifting the ban part":

Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu, while welcoming the endorsement of coastal whaling, said: "Regarding the total catch allowed, it is different from Japan’s position. We want to continue negotiating with patience."

The U.S. lead the effort to put together the new proposal — a painful compromise for whaling opponents — which will be voted on at an IWC meeting in June. 

It doesn’t seem like anti-whaling countries have a whole lot of leverage here. The U.S. has rejected plans to impose economic sanctions against Japan’s "scientific" whale hunts in the past and it’s not clear how serious Australia is  about its threats to take Japan to the International Criminal Court. Japan’s best strategy seems to be to keep the IWC talking — while recruiting more allies for its cause — and continue the hunt in the meantime. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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