Japan uses tsunami victims' cash to shield whalers from activists

£19m from fund set up to rebuild coast stricken by triple disaster is diverted to help fishing fleet

Tokyo

A A A

Japan caused outrage yesterday as authorities confirmed it is diverting millions of pounds tagged for the reconstruction of its tsunami-devastated coast to protect its annual Antarctic whale-hunt.

Roughly 2.28bn yen (£19m) from a reconstruction fund for areas badly hit by the crippling 11 March earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster will be used to beef up security for the Japanese whaling fleet, which left port under heavy guard this week.

The money is part of about 500bn yen in "fisheries-related spending" green-lighted by parliament last month. Japan's Fisheries Agency justified the decision by saying that "safer hunts" would ultimately help whaling towns along the coast to recover.

"Many people in [those areas] are waiting for Japan's commercial whaling operations to resume," said the agency's spokesman Tatsuya Nakaoku. The agency said that some of the money is earmarked to allow the fleet to "stably carry out its whaling research".

Conservationists immediately condemned the plan. "Not only is the whaling industry unable to survive without large increases in government handouts, now it's siphoning money away from the victims of the 11 March triple disaster, at a time when they need it most," said Junichi Sato, executive director of Greenpeace Japan. "This is a new low for the shameful whaling industry and the callous politicians who support it".

Japan was forced to suspend commercial whaling in 1987 but exploits a loophole in international rules to launch what it calls "scientific whaling expeditions" to the Southern Ocean. The meat from the roughly 1,000 whales killed during the cull is sold to partly pay for the expeditions. A further $10m in public money is used to support the campaign every year.

The whalers cut short their hunt this year after weeks of harassment by the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which claimed a major environmental victory. The whalers returned to port reportedly with about a fifth of the planned catch. Japan also blamed its reduced haul of 507 whalesduring its 2009-10 Antarctic hunt on the harrying of its fleet.

The whaling boats left in secrecy on Tuesday from Shimonoseki in southern Japan, guarded by an unspecified number of coast guard officers, a patrol ship and other "security measures," according to local media reports. The fleet's target catch is said to be about 930 minke whales. Sea Shepherd is preparing to again confront the fleet and warned of an "escalation". "Last year we chased them all the way to South America and that's when they decided to go home early," said Paul Watson, head of the society. "We've already defeated them economically. Now we have to defeat them politically."

Mr Watson said the money being used to protect the fleet came from public donations to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami, a claim denied by Japan's government, and Green-peace Japan.

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat