Japan plans on resuming scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean once it makes a few tweaks to the terminology in their scientific research permit proposal since the ruling from the ICJ, according to an article from Japan Times.
Japan has also reached out to cetacean scientists, requesting their participation in a review of their revised "scientific" whaling research program. Below is the letter sent from the head of Japan's delegation to the IWC Scientific Committee:
Following the Judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) dated March 31, 2014, in the case concerning Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening), Mr. Yoshimasa HAYASHI, Japan's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, issued a policy statement concerning the future whale research programs on April 18, 2014 (please refer to http://www.jfa.maff.go.jp/e/pdf/danwa.pdf).
In accordance with the Minister's statement, Japanese scientists are now developing a plan for a new special permit research program in the Antarctic under Article VIII of the International Convention for Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), which reflects the criteria mentioned in the ICJ Judgment. The new research plan is to be submitted to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC/SC) by the autumn of this year, with the intention of starting the new program in the 2015/16 austral summer season.
The new research plan, after being submitted to the IWC/SC, will be reviewed by an external expert panel in January or February 2015 and then by the IWC/SC in May, in accordance with the review guidelines established by the IWC (so-called "Revised Annex P" process) (please refer to the attachment for details). In addition to the official IWC/SC review process, we will have our initial draft of the research plan reviewed by external scientists with a wide range of expertise to get comments and suggestions before it is submitted to the IWC/SC. This voluntary procedure follows the Minister's statement which says "Japan will follow an internationally open and highly transparent process through securing the participation of renowned scientists from Japan and abroad." Specifically, we plan to go through a process open to external experts to obtain valuable inputs, including constructive criticisms for improving our draft research plan before submission to the IWC/SC. There will be two occasions when you can provide your comments and suggestions on our new research plan: 1) e-mail correspondence through which you can comment on the first draft to be available in early September; and 2) a meeting to be held in Tokyo, Japan, in October at which you can discuss the second draft of the research plan.
Under these circumstances, we would very much appreciate it if you could kindly participate in our voluntary review process. If you are interested in doing so, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your interest. Following receipt of such confirmation we will send you the first draft of the research plan ("outline" describing basic concept and major components of the plan) in early September, and an announcement of the meeting to be held in October as soon as arrangements are finalized. Even if you are not able to participate in the October meeting, you will have an opportunity to review the second draft and comment on it through e-mail correspondence.
Please be advised that the process at this moment is still at a technical stage handled by our "working-level" scientists. In other words, this is not an official process and your participation does not mean or imply your endorsement of or support for our new research plan. Please note that your participation in this review process could be made public. Please also note that the first draft is very preliminary and could be subject to substantial changes. The Government of Japan does not assume any responsibility at this stage in the contents of the draft.
Finally, I would like to note that this e-mail is being sent to external experts in the following categories, with the agreement of Mr. Joji MORISHITA, Commissioner of Japan to the IWC.
- Members of the IWC/SC
- External expert panel members for the past special permit research reviews held by the IWC/SC
- External expert reviewers for the 2004 review on the Southern Ocean Sanctuary
- Experts who appeared in the ICJ case
- Chair of SC-CAMLR and conveners of its related working groups
- Chairs of scientific subsidiary bodies (and panel members) of regional fisheries management organizations which cover the waters adjacent to the Antarctic Ocean (i.e. CCSBT, SPRFMO, SEAFO and ICCAT)
- Director and ex-Directors of Fisheries Resources Management and Research Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- Other experts who have good insights into the biology of marine mammals, the Antarctic marine ecosystem and the conservation or sustainable use of marine living resources.
If you have any question(s), please send us an e-mail to email@example.com.
Your kind cooperation would be highly appreciated.
Hidehiro KATO, Ph.D.
Head of the Japan's Delegation to the IWC Scientific Committee
August 29, 2014