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New Japanese Prime Minister Urged To Recall Whaling Fleet, 'Chart A New Course For 21st Century'

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LONDON, England -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is urging Japan's new government to recall its whaling fleet which is heading to Antarctica to cruelly hunt almost 1,000 whales.

In defiance of global pressure and a number of international laws, the government of Japan's whaling fleet has left harbor and is now en route to the pristine Southern Ocean Sanctuary to harpoon up to 935 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales.

Despite a worldwide ban on commercial whaling, Japan hunts whales in Antarctica under the loophole of "scientific whaling". However, very little research is produced and with expanding hunt quotas and whale meat on sale in supermarkets and restaurants, this is clearly commercial whaling by another name.

"Prime Minister Hatoyama came to power promising a sea change in Japan's domestic and international policies. But with whaling, it's the same old story - government bureaucrats pushing sham science while turning the sea red," said Patrick Ramage, IFAW's global whale programme director. "We urge the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Okada to recall the Japanese whaling fleet and chart a new course for 21st Century whale conservation."

The future of whaling is among issues due to be discussed at a closed-door meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Seattle, Washington, USA next month. Japan has previously announced it would suspend plans to harpoon 50 humpback whales while talks continue, but it is not suspending the rest of its so-called "scientific" whaling programme.

Japan's whalers have killed 9,394 whales in the Southern Ocean since 1987 when they first used the cover of "scientific research" to get around the international whaling ban.

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