Japanese government says no whaling while Greenpeace is present

    TOKYO and TORONTO, Jan. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - The Japanese have not resumed
hunting whales because Greenpeace is following their fleet in the Southern
Ocean Whale Sanctuary, Toshiro Shirasu, the administrative vice-minister of
agriculture, forestry and fisheries, told reporters in Tokyo today.
    The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has been chasing the factory ship Nisshin
Maru for 10 straight days, consequently stopping the entire whaling operation.
With the factory ship out of commission, no whales have been killed by the
hunter ships as they would not be able to transfer their catch.
    "Greenpeace came here to peacefully stop the hunt and that is what we
have done. But it is not enough to stop whaling only when the world's eyes are
on the fleet and the Esperanza is on its tail," said Greenpeace Japan
campaigner Sakyo Noda, on board the Esperanza. "Tokyo must take the decision
to call an end to this whaling season now and make it the last one."
    The Japanese government has come under increasing pressure over their
whaling program. Today that pressure increased after Junichi Sato, Greenpeace
Japan whales project leader, wrote an open letter to Japanese business leaders
warning of the negative impact that whaling is having on the country's
reputation internationally.
    Already the New Zealand division of Toyota has condemned whaling and even
the former whaling company Nissui, has acknowledged that whaling is bad for

    The letter states:

    "By hunting nearly 1,000 whales including endangered fin whales, by using
    taxpayers' money, under the name of 'research' in an internationally
    recognized whale sanctuary, the Japanese government is creating huge
    environmental, economic, and diplomatic friction, the negative impact of
    which many professionals in the economic and financial world in Japan
    have underestimated. As Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd. (Nissui), one of the
    major ex-whaling companies, said, 'Involvement in whaling is a business
    risk.' Whaling creates a negative image to the world for Japanese
    companies and the country itself.

    While Greenpeace would not support a boycott of Japanese products, there
    is a strong possibility of boycotts by consumers around the world if
    Japan's whaling continues in the Southern Ocean. Also, the image of Japan
    as host and international leader on environmental issues at the
    G8 Summit, which the Japanese government and your organization announced,
    has been ruined. The whaling issue could also negatively influence
    economic cooperation with Australia, and an invitation to hold the
    Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2016."

    "Greenpeace's campaign to save whales from the commercial hunt began over
three decades ago in Canada, and whales are close to the hearts of Canadians,"
said Beth Hunter, Greenpeace Canada's oceans coordinator. "The tide is finally
shifting against whaling in Japan and we have reason to hope that they will
end their hunt."
    Canadian Texas Constantine, a 32 year old mariner from Caledon, Ontario,
is serving as second mate on the Esperanza and is available for interviews to
provide a first-hand account of the activities of the Japanese whalers and
Greenpeace's efforts to save the whales.

For further information:

For further information: Jane Story, Greenpeace Canada communications
officer, (416) 930-9055

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