Business, Finance & Economics

Japan plans whale hunt


Japan will begin its whale hunt in the Antarctic in the Southern Ocean in December. Local children are shown here touching a Baird's Beaked whale at Wada Port on July 29, 2009 in Minamiboso, Chiba, Japan.


Junko Kimura

Japan will begin its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic in the Southern Ocean in December, despite activists threatening to disrupt the whalers and even die for the cause.

Japan's fisheries minister said increased security would be taken to ensure the safety of the whalers after repeated clashes with U.S.-based activists last season, Voice of America reports.

The most recent hunt was stopped midway after several serious confrontations on the water with activists from the conservationist group Sea Shepherd and it had hoped that Japan would back down this year, AAP reports.

Earlier this week, Sea Shepherd promised dramatic attacks against Japanese whalers in the coming months, with volunteers warning they were prepared to die for the cause, it reports.

The group launched its "Operation Divine Wind" project on its Facebook page, which refers to the Japanese word kamikaze, the name given to World War II pilots sent on suicide missions, Washington Post reports.

It will send 100 volunteers to the Southern Ocean in the first few weeks of December, Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson said.

"They will have to kill us to prevent us from intervening once again," Mr Watson said.

Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986, but Japan conducts whale hunts in the Antarctic and the north-western Pacific under an exception that allows limited kills for research purposes.

“We intend to carry out the research after enhancing measures to assure that it is not obstructed,” Japan's fisheries minister Michihiko Kano said, Washington Post reports.