The organization accused Japan of breaching international agreements and called on the Tokyo government to recall the ships. Whaling was banned since 1986. The Fleet-driven Antarctic whale sanctuary has existed since 1994. Japan is investing millions in the promotion of whaling and disguising the killing of marine mammals as a "science". Other states, including the US, had repeatedly protested Japan's whaling program.
The meat of the sea mammals is coveted by Japanese gourmets as a delicacy. It is sold on the open market - according to official figures, to finance the costs of whale research. The government states that it does not violate legal provisions. However, according to Greenpeace, in the long term the Japanese want to get back into industrial whaling in order to make a profit by selling the meat. Even now whale meat brings up to 600 marks per kilo, it said.
The new whaling fleet departed Friday from the Southwest Japanese port of Shimonoseki, where the 2002 meeting of the International Whaling Commission will take place. The fleet consists of three harpoon boats, a search ship and the mothership Nisshin Maru. The fleet is expected back in April. Greenpeace has launched a tour of twenty German cities in protest. Members of the Greenpeace groups show images of what they call pointless slaughter and call on passers-by to send protest postcards to the Japanese foreign minister.
The Japanese Government has been repeatedly requested by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to stop the hunt and to use only those "scientific investigations" that do not lead to the death of the animals. Moreover, the "research results" obtained so far would be rejected as superfluous by the scientists of the Whaling Commission. display