Joji Morishita, Japan's Deputy Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) made an official statement that the Japanese whaling fleet intends to return to the Southern Ocean this December to resume their illegal whaling operations. Although this decision makes no economic or political sense, it is becoming ever more obvious that Japanese whaling delegates have left logic and reason in the dust in their mad rush to condemn Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and prove that they will not surrender to pressure brought to bear on their poaching operations by the marine conservationists.
Despite being massively in debt, a disappearing market for whale meat, a court challenge by Australia, international condemnation, and the loss and suffering of Japanese citizens from the tsunami, earthquake, and radiation, the Japanese government seems intent on diverting financial resources to subsidize their whalers' return to the coast of Antarctica, simply because "they will not give into Sea Shepherd." It seems as though pride and saving face are now the only reasons for their return.
The great economic superpower of Japan has been embarrassed by a small non-governmental organization, resulting in a vendetta to destroy Sea Shepherd with demands of others nations to negate our vessels' flags of registry, shut down our offices, seize our ships, and arrest our crews. All this effort despite Sea Shepherd never being charged with a single crime, or having caused a single serious injury.
Concurrent with this announcement, Sea Shepherd has officially begun preparations for Operation Divine Wind, their eighth Antarctic Whale Defense campaign to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, and thus also a fifth season documenting their efforts on Animal Planet's hit television series, Whale Wars.
In an interview with the BBC, Morishita said that finding a way to deal with the Sea Shepherd vessels is the main obstacle Japan sees to continuing for the next season and beyond. "We are now discussing how we can send our fleet back to the Antarctic Ocean," said Morishita, Japan's deputy commissioner to the IWC and a senior official for the Fisheries Agency. "Simply put, the attack from Sea Shepherd organization is the one we have to consider how we prevent that to happen again. The attack this past year became so severe that we didn't have any choice to try to prevent this from happening."
On July 12, the BBC reported, that "...each successive year, Sea Shepherd has sent bigger fleets and faster vessels, while Japan has down scaled its forces; last season, for the first time, the activists had the upper hand. Rather than catching 850-odd whales - the official target - the eventual haul was about 170. It is not clear how Japan intends to protect its fleet in any future expedition - it was not just a matter of sending military patrols, Mr. Morishita said, as that was a legal minefield. Another is financial. Japan's national budget was in trouble even before the impact of the recent earthquake and tsunami; and with sales of whale meat falling, the cost of the hunt is rising. But Mr. Morishita suggested all of these issues would be easier to overcome than Sea Shepherd's opposition."
After intervening against the illegal slaughter of pilot whales in the Danish Faeroe Islands this summer, the Sea Shepherd flagship Steve Irwin and the Brigitte Bardot will head south to join the Bob Barker, which now stands ready to depart from Australia. Sea Shepherd is also looking into securing a fourth ship for their fleet, and is inviting other organizations to join in the campaign to intervene in Japan's illegal whaling operations.
"Japan wants to push it for another year. We will return to the Southern Ocean and demonstrate that our resolve and determination to save the whales remains stronger than the whaler's greedy lust for illegal slaughter," said Captain Paul Watson. "We have invested seven years in this campaign and a total of 24 months at sea in Antarctica in pursuit of our goal of sinking the Japanese whaling fleet economically. We intend to make it impossible for these poachers to kill whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."
The whaling season is expected to begin in the Southern Ocean by mid-December of this year.