By Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, December 2011
After the horrific tragedy of March 11th, hundreds of thousands of Japanese people had their lives permanently altered by the triple blow of the earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear horror of Fukushima.
People from around the world responded generously and millions of dollars poured into Japan to help the many families who lost their children, parents, homes, and worldly possessions.
The world responded and demonstrated that they cared; yet seven months later, thousands of Japanese families remain homeless as a devastated infrastructure continues to be slowly rebuilt.
When people the world over sent their donations to Japan, it was with the innocent understanding that their contributions would be used by the Japanese government for the purpose of actually helping the Japanese victims of the disasters.
What they did not anticipate or imagine is that some of these funds would be used to subsidize the illegal slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. But that is what the Japanese Fisheries Agency has done with a large amount of the relief funds. It is a complete disgrace and the Japanese government is displaying blatant contempt in response to the world’s generosity by this shameful behavior.
On October 21st, 2011, the Japanese cabinet agreed to set aside 2.28 billion yen (over $29 million USD) in tax revenue to help those in the worst affected regions. Since then, it has been discovered that the Japanese Fisheries Agency submitted a request entitled “measures to stabilize the scientific whaling research programme” that actually requested and received this full amount for security to defend the so-called Japanese scientific whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean.
The justification is that some of the whalers working on the Antarctic whaling fleet’s vessels were from communities damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.
This request comes at a time when the whaling program in Japan is suffering from debts of over $60 million USD. What this actually means is that donations from around the world sent by well-meaning generous people to help victims of the earthquake will now be used to attempt to stop Sea Shepherd Conservation Society from defending whales in the Southern Ocean.
Japan has actually allocated nearly $30 million USD specifically to oppose Sea Shepherd’s efforts to defend the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
It is ludicrous that this wealthy economic superpower is treating Sea Shepherd like an actual nation that they are at war with. The Prime Minister of Japan has actually stated that Japan will not surrender to Sea Shepherd.
It appears that this will be a very different and more challenging campaign this season.
Despite this incredible war chest of rechanneled relief funds, the international crew of volunteers on our three Sea Shepherd ships will continue to defend whales against overwhelming odds.
Japan has political power, tens of millions of dollars, faster and larger ships, and four whalers for every whale defender, but we have something they do not – a passionate and courageous crew of international volunteers, willing to risk our lives to defend the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Operation Divine Wind, our eighth campaign to defend whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, will begin in early December.