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Anchorage Day Four: Let's party like it's 1946

Ah yes, the good old days of 1946. Japan was a ruined, beaten nation, humiliated after being forced to surrender at the conclusion of the Second World War. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were radioactive wrecks, Tokyo and many other cities devastated by more conventional bombing. The economy was ruined, the nation's infrastructure was ruined.

The Japanese people were starving. How to feed them until the nation's agriculture could be restored? The occupying powers (USA, UK, Australia etc... where does that sound familiar?) decided that the solution was to feed 'em whale!

It's 2007, and today's prosperous, thriving Japan wants to "normalise" the International Whaling Commission, by taking it back to its roots in 1946. Are they offering to take Japan back to 1946 as a whole?

IWC59 wound up yesterday. A fairly comprehensive summary of each day's proceedings can be found on the IWC website. Greenland got what they wanted (nineteen fin whales per year till 2012, with annual harvests of two bowheads and two hundred and twelve minkes). Japan, meanwhile, spat the dummy when it was clear there was no consensus for their coastal whaling proposal.

The final indignity for Japan came when the IWC passed a motion reaffirming the moratorium on commercial whaling.

Most disturbing was the conduct of the Gang Of Twenty-Six (the Japan faction). Instead of being continually voted down at IWC59, they simply refused to take part. Yokohama withdrew its bid to host IWC61 in 2009. There are noises suggesting that the Gang Of Twenty-Six will split from the IWC and make their own rules in future.

Meanwhile, almost in passing, the IWC noted the demise of the baiji dolphin, and passed a resolution lamenting the perils facing the world's smallest cetacean, the vaquita. (WWF Mexico's vaquita website has more information.)

Excellent coverage of IWC59 through Greenpeace, and indeed the Song Of The Whale Blog hosted by the IFAW.

Finally, Joji Morishita issued a statement on Thursday night. carries the full text, but let me just say here that, in Mr Morishita's words:

Japan provided a very, very, very reasonable proposal.


CoP14 starts in The Hague on Sunday.