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Japan slams anti-whaling Sea Shepherd 'attacks' on high seas

by Staff Writers
Agadir, Morocco (AFP) June 23, 2010
Japan assailed activists from the Sea Shepherd group at global whaling talks Wednesday, accusing them of launching "life-threatening" attacks on its whaling ships on the high seas.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC), meeting in Agadir, was shown images and video clips of clashes earlier this year in the Southern Ocean, where protesters sought to obstruct hunting of the marine mammals.

"The attacks are becoming more aggressive year after year," the chief delegate for Japan, Akira Nakamae, complained in a plenary session of the 88-nation forum.

"It was a life-threatening situation for our crew and scientists."

Japan said the Sea Shepherd crew used reinforced cables and ropes to entangle propellers on Japanese vessels and cannon-like devices to throw bottles filled with rancid-butter bombs and paint.

They also shone potentially eye-damaging "laser guns," it alleged.

"If the laser beam hits the eyes, it can cause loss of sight," Nakamae said.

Some pictures showed New Zealand citizen Peter Bethune, whose 24-metre (78-foot) trimaran, the Ady Gil, collided with a Japanese whaling support vessel, taking aim at the vessel with a launcher of some sort before his boat sank.

Japan claims that Bethune sped up to put his ship in the path of the larger Japanese ship, and that one of its crew was injured.

Sea Shepherd says the Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rammed and split the Ady Gil in two.

Bethune boarded a Japanese vessel, where he was arrested and later charged with trespassing and assault. He is awaiting sentencing in Japan.

Japan called on the Netherlands, the flag country for the Sea Shepherd vessel, and Australia, whose ports are used by the anti-whaling group to launch its sorties, to "take responsible measures" to stop future protests.

"It is mere luck that no one was killed, that no major catastrophe occurred," another Japanese diplomat said.

The IWC is meeting in the Moroccan resort of Agadir until Friday in a bid to hammer out a compromise on the future of whaling.

Japan joins Iceland and Norway in the group of countries that are continuing to kill whales, often in the face of bitter opposition from green activists.

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Japan, Iceland rebuke critics at whaling talks
Agadir, Morocco (AFP) June 22, 2010
Japan and Iceland scolded critics Tuesday at crunch talks on the future of commercial whaling, saying they had offered huge concessions while pro-conservationists had refused to compromise. A spokesman for the Japanese delegation at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) also lashed out at green groups, accusing them of spreading lies and manipulating public opinion. "Japan has compr ... read more

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