Japan issues warrant for anti-whaling activist: Report

Japan's coastguard has obtained an arrest warrant for the head of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.

Japan issues warrant for anti-whaling activist: Report

Japan's coastguard has obtained an arrest warrant for the head of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd for allegedly ordering members of the group to obstruct Japan's whale hunt, domestic media said on Friday.

The move comes as the International Whaling Commission tries to negotiate a compromise in the long-running row between pro- and anti-whaling countries that might allow Japan to increase coastal whaling while slashing its Antarctic hunt targets.

Paul Watson, the 59-year-old Canadian founder of Sea Shepherd, will be placed on the "international wanted list" via Interpol, Kyodo news agency said. A coastguard spokesman said he could not confirm the report.

"The Japanese government is desperate to stop the Sea Shepherd ships from returning to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary for the 2010 and 2011 season," Watson said in a statement on the group's website.

He also questioned whether Australian authorities would honour the arrest warrant.

Japanese authorities brought Sea Shepherd member Pete Bethune to Tokyo and charged him on five counts earlier this month after he boarded a Japanese whaling vessel in what the activists said was an attempt to conduct a citizen's arrest.

Bethune has told investigators he was acting on Watson's orders, Kyodo said.

Anti-whalers see the hunting of the huge creatures as cruel and unnecessary, while the Japanese government says it is a valued cultural tradition no different from hunting other wild animals. Most of the meat from the hunt ends up on dinner tables.

Japan caught only about 500 whales this season in what it calls "research whaling" in the Antarctic, little more than half its target of more than 900, due to skirmishes with Sea Shepherd.

Reuters

Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2010, 12:41
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