Japan seeks to slow anti-whaling efforts

Jan. 5, 2009 at 3:06 PM

TOKYO, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Japanese whalers are trying to disrupt anti-whaling efforts by getting other nations to refuse activists entry to their ports to refuel their ship.

The Japan Whaling Association has called on the Australian and New Zealand governments to close their ports to the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd's ship, the Steve Irwin, which has chased the Japanese whalers across the Antarctic seas for two weeks, Mercopress reported Monday.

The activists and whalers had two brief clashes, neither of which involved the Japanese main factory ship, the Nisshin Maru.

Association President Keiichi Nakajima said failure of Australia and New Zealand to keep the activists out of their ports would mean "these countries will be complicit in any further attacks."

"We know there are different views on whaling around the world," Nakajima said. "But the actions of the Sea Shepherd crew committing violence under the Dutch flag are no longer a whaling issue, but an issue of human life and safety at sea."

The Japanese government has protested to Netherlands authorities about a Dec. 26 incident in which the Steve Irwin and the whale spotter ship Kaiko Maru touched sides, Mercopress said.

Sea Shepherd President Paul Watson claimed the Japanese ship turned in on the activists' vessel when the latter had right of way.

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