Australian official says Japan had a tantrum over whaling

Environment minister says country flew in the face of world opinion

Posted: Monday, June 04, 2007

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia's environment minister on Sunday likened Japan to a toddler having a tantrum in its response to international condemnation of commercial whaling.

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Japan threatened to abandon the International Whaling Commission, which in a meeting in Anchorage last week passed a resolution upholding a 21-year moratorium on commercial whaling.

"It was a very bad conference for Japan," Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, an anti-whaling advocate who attended the Anchorage conference, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. TV.

Using a stinging colloquialism, Turnbull accused Japan of a "dummy spit," "dummy" being an Australian term for a toddler's pacifier that is spit out at the onset of a tantrum.

"I think their huge dummy spit at the end will not reflect well on Tokyo," Turnbull said.

"I think the Japanese government really has to sit back and ask itself, looking at the debacle that was Japan's outcome at the whaling conference, ... can we continue to fly in the face of world opinion on this issue?"

Toward the end of last week's meeting, Japan said it would consider options such as withdrawing from the IWC and forming another organization with pro-whaling nations. Japan's comments came after it failed in its bid to gain "community whaling" status that would allow limited minke whale hunts by coastal communities with whaling histories.

Japan later told reporters it would continue with a plan to kill 50 humpback whales, an endangered species, as part of its science program.

Japan kills more than 1,000 whales a year and sells the meat under a research provision allowed by the IWC. Anti-whaling factions say the program is nothing more than commercial whaling in the guise of science.

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