Japan protests to Netherlands over activist ship clashes with whaler
Japan lodged a protest with the Netherlands Friday after the Dutch-registered flagship of the Sea Shepherd environmentalist group clashed with a Japanese whaling ship in Antarctic waters.
TOKYO—The Japanese Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Dutch ambassador to Tokyo, Philip de Heer, who had promised to swiftly relay the protest to his home government.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said their vessel, the Steve Irwin, had no choice but to hit the Yushin Maru No.2 after the Japanese whaler made a sudden attempt to block its path.
But Tokyo's government-backed Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) blamed the Sea Shepherd for the collision, saying it came forward and rammed the Yushin Maru No. 2 in the stern.
Clashes between Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd have become increasingly heated during Japan's annual whale hunt in Antarctic waters.
Vice Foreign Minister Nobuhide Minorikawa told the Dutch ambassador that the Sea Shepherd had committed a "dangerous act accompanied by violence" and that Tokyo wanted the Netherlands to take "appropriate measures" to prevent it from happening again, the ministry said in a press release.
De Heer replied it was "extremely regrettable" that such an act had occurred and that he would pass on the protest to his government in The Hague.
De Heer and Minorikawa agreed that Japan and the Netherlands would continue cooperation to prevent a recurrence of dangerous behavior at sea, the statement said.
Despite a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling, Japan kills more than 800 whales a year in Antarctic waters and the western North Pacific in the name of scientific research.
In practice, most of the meat from such whaling ends up on Japanese dinner tables. Australia and other anti-whaling nations regularly accuse Tokyo of using research as a pretext for commercial hunting.