Tue, Feb 04, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Japan asks Netherlands to act against anti-whalers

AFP, TOKYO

Japan yesterday said that it is asking the Netherlands to take “practical measures” against a Dutch-registered vessel that collided with a Japanese whaling ship in the Southern Ocean.

The ship belonging to anti-whaling campaigners Sea Shepherd, the Bob Barker, came into contact with a Japanese harpoon vessel on Sunday as it tried to interrupt the hunt.

Both sides have said the other is to blame for the ensuing dispute.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday condemned the group, saying it was responsible for the accident.

“The sabotage activity was extremely dangerous,” Suga told reporters. “It is unforgivable.”

“As a government, we are asking the Netherlands, where the ship is registered, to take practical measures,” the government spokesman added.

Sea Shepherd has said that a Japanese whaling ship rammed the Bob Barker during a coordinated attack, as the Japanese fleet’s three harpoon ships tried to drive the campaigners away from factory ship Nisshin Maru.

The activist group said the Japanese vessels had attempted to damage the Sea Shepherd fleet’s propellers with steel cables, had thrown projectiles — including grappling hooks — at a second Sea Shepherd ship, the Steve Irwin, and had also fired water cannons at the Bob Barker’s crew in a small boat as they tried to cut the cables.

Bob Barker captain Peter Hammarstedt said the Sea Shepherd vessels were “unprovokedly attacked” by the Japanese harpooners in a “ruthless” fashion.

A Japanese fisheries agency official said no crew aboard the whaling vessels had been hurt and all were able to continue sailing normally.

High-seas confrontations are common between Sea Shepherd and Japanese boats, which hunt whales in Antarctica under a “scientific research” loophole in the international moratorium on whaling.

In 2010, one such collision resulted in the sinking of a Sea Shepherd speedboat, the Ady Gil.

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