Greeted by cheers from a small group of anti-whaling supporters, a Greenpeace boat docked in Japan yesterday, ending a weeklong standoff with Japanese authorities who had effectively barred its entry into port.
But the arrival of the Dutch-flagged Esperanza at Yokohama port, southwest of Tokyo, was strictly guarded by port authorities wary of the vessel for its role in tracking Japan's latest whaling mission in the Antarctic. Japanese officials have called Greenpeace activists terrorists and threatened legal action against environmental groups that harry whaling boats.
Following a week of negotiations, Esperanza has been allowed two days in Japan to restock supplies and change its crew, but Yokohama city turned down a Greenpeace request to open the vessel up to the public, Nobuhiro Kinoshita of the city's Port and Harbor Bureau said.
Esperanza's arrival was also delayed after Japan's seamen's union demanded the vessel's shipping agent -- which handles its port clearance -- not deal with the environmental group, prompting the agent to cancel the job.
"We're disappointed that we're still treated here as bad people," said Luke Cordingley, a British crew member who spent months tracking the fleet of Japanese whaling ships off the Antarctic. "All we want is to open a dialogue with the Japanese people."
The standoff marked a new chapter in the already strained relationship between the Japanese government and the environmental group.
Tokyo has been especially sensitive to criticism over its annual whaling hunt off Antarctica after its latest mission was cut short by a ship fire that left one crew dead. It was the first time in 20 years that Japan had to abort its whaling mission.
Though the blaze on the processing vessel, Nisshin Maru, has not been linked to earlier high seas demonstrations by activists, whaling officials have blasted environmental groups for interfering with the hunt.
Japanese video showed protesters aboard the ship of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, launching smoke canisters and dropping nets to entangle the whaling ships' propellors.
Greenpeace has said it had nothing to do with the attacks and offered the Nisshin Maru assistance at the time, providing the whaling fleet with information on surrounding ice conditions. The Japanese, however, declined an offer by Esperanza to tow the Nisshin Maru after the fire.
Japan says it maintains a whaling fleet for scientific research. The International Whaling Commission allows the hunts, but environmental groups have long condemned them as a pretext for commercial whaling since the practice was banned by the commission in 1986.
Tokyo says that whale populations have recovered enough from the 1980s to support a commercial whaling program.
The Nisshin Maru returned to port from Antarctica last month with a catch of 508 whales out of a target of 860. Meat from the hunt is sold, though whale meat is increasingly out of fashion in Japan, leading to an unprecedented glut and plunging prices.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around