As I sit in a Tokyo restaurant having breakfast, I read in the morning paper that Japan’s Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra on Saturday. ‘Okada, Rudd in ‘frank discussion’ on whaling’ and ‘Okada, Rudd speak ‘frankly’ about whaling,’ said the headlines.
Japanese officials said Rudd, who warned earlier this week that Australia would resort to international legal action unless Japan ceases whaling in the Antarctic Ocean by November, told Okada that Australia seeks a solution through ‘rational dialogue’.
They also said Okada agreed with Rudd on the importance of reaching a diplomatic solution, but at the same time he sought Australia’s cooperation over the US based anti-whaling group, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Alluding to repeated clashes on the high seas, the foreign minister called the Sea Sherherd’s harassment of the Japanese whaling fleet ‘absolutely unforgivable’ and ‘dangerous’.
I wonder how the whales are feeling about the ‘absolutely unforgivable’ and ‘dangerous’ treatment the Japanese whalers are dishing out?
Rudd said that while Australia condemns acts of violence, there is no ‘legal basis’ to bar the Sea Shepherd access to Australian port facilities as Japan has requested.
Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, met Okada yesterday in Perth and said ahead of the meeting that the visit presented a chance for the two governments to reach a ‘satisfactory outcome’ on the whaling issue. ‘I’ll make the point that Australia wants Japan to cease whaling in the Great Southern Oceans’ Smith said.
At this point November seems a long way off, so let’s hope this time something happens and we no longer see horrific images of Japanese whalers killing whales in the Great Southern Ocean, or protest vessels being destroyed. I am sure the intelligent citizens of Tokyo that sit around me this morning would agree that killing whales in the Antarctic is not a good idea.