WikiLeaks / Cablegate: Sea Shepherd, Not Greenpeace, A Threat To Japanese Whaling

At the peak of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s anti-whaling activities in 2008, Greenpeace made public their opposition to the tactics of Paul Watson’s group, which coincided with Greenpeace’s refusal to help the Sea Shepherd vessel stop the refuelling of the Japanese whaler Nisshin Maru (Greenpeace later claimed to have driven off the same ship merely by their presence).

Greenpeace have long been antagonistic to the tactics of Sea Shepherd, something their statement makes clear:

Paul Watson has made many public requests for Greenpeace to reveal the location of the whaling fleet or otherwise cooperate with SSCS in the Southern Ocean when the ships of both organizations have been there simultaneously.

We passionately want to stop whaling, and will do so peacefully. That’s why we won’t help Sea Shepherd. Greenpeace is committed to non-violence and we’ll never, ever, change that; not for anything. If we helped Sea Shepherd to find the whaling fleet we’d be responsible for anything they did having got that information, and history shows that they’ve used violence in the past, in the most dangerous seas on Earth. For us, non-violence is a non-negotiable, precious principle. Greenpeace will continue to act to defend the whales, but will never attack or endanger the whalers…

In addition to being morally wrong, we believe the use of violence in protection of whales to be a tactical error. If there’s one way to harden Japanese public opinion and ensure whaling continues, it’s to use violent tactics against their fleet. It’s wrong because it puts human lives at risk, and it’s wrong because it makes the whalers stronger in Japan.

The last paragraph is key: if Greenpeace are correct then Sea Shepherd’s activities would not register in Japanese diplomatic circles – if anything it would be Greenpeace which would be seen as a threat. However, what is made very clear in the following cable (final paragraph) is that it is SSCS, not Greenpeace, that are considered a major obstacle to Japanese commercial whaling efforts. It seems that for all Greenpeace’s rhetoric, Paul Watson’s tactics are having the desired effect.

It is also worth noting that “looking at” implies that Sea Shepherd Conservation Society could potentially be classified as a terrorist organisation in the near future for trade purposes.

Note: Marc Wall is US Economic Minister-Counselor to Japan


Reference ID: 10TOKYO171
Created: 2010-01-27 08:08
Released: 2011-01-01 21:09
Origin: Embassy Tokyo


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 000171



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2020

Classified By: EMIN Marc Wall, reasons 1.4 b and d

¶1. (C/NF) Summary: EMIN urged MOFA State Secretary Fukuyama
and Fisheries Agency Deputy Director General Yamashita to
press Iceland to lower its proposed quota for whaling in
order to facilitate an overall agreement on whaling. Both
Fukuyama and Yamashita said the GOJ is reluctant to take such
action. Fukuyama cited a lack of desire to raise the profile
of whaling to the political level, while Yamashita said Japan
could not use trade measures to stop the importation of whale
meat from Finland. EMIN made the case that the parties are
close to an agreement and Japan should advise Iceland to come
to the table with a reasonable offer. Yamashita the Sea
Shepherd's harassment of the Japanese whaling fleet could
limit domestic support for a compromise. End summary.

¶2. (SBU) EMIN met MOFA State Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama
January 25 and Fisheries Agency of Japan Deputy Director
General Jun Yamashita January 26 to press the case for
Japan's help in reaching out to Iceland for cooperation in
the current round of negotiations in the International
Whaling Commission (IWC). In his meeting with Fukuyama, EMIN
thanked Fukuyama for Japan's constructive engagement in the
talks and asked for Japan's help to encourage Iceland to
reduce its proposed quota for whaling in the North Atlantic.
Fukuyama said he understands that Iceland has taken a tough
stance in the negotiations, but implied that his options are

¶3. (C/NF) Fukuyama said the whaling issue has not been a
political issue in Japan, a situation he would like to avoid.
If the GOJ moves forward on the issue too quickly, he added,
it will create a domestic political problem for the ruling
Democratic Party of Japan. He sees the situation as a Catch
22: it may not be possible to resolve the whaling issue
without taking it to a political level, but doing so could
create an adverse reaction for the DPJ.

¶4. (SBU) EMIN replied that Iceland's proposed take of fin
whales is predicated on exporting to Japan, and its catch
quota is far in excess of what the Japanese market could
absorb. If Japan and the U.S. work to encourage both sides
in the whaling debate to take reasonable approaches there
will be an opportunity for a breakthrough. Fukuyama said
that while his sense is that it will be difficult for Japan
to approach Iceland, he will examine Iceland's position and
the market for imported whale meat.

¶5. (SBU) In his meeting with Fisheries Agency Deputy
Director General Yamashita, EMIN again made the case for a
GOJ intervention with Iceland. Yamashita argued that trade
measures against Iceland are not appropriate since trade in
whale meat between the two countries is not prohibited under
either CITES or IWC rules. (Note: EMIN did not recommend
Japan take any measures to restrict trade. End note) EMIN
countered that the issue at hand is concluding an agreement.
A message from Japan to Iceland that its proposed catch far
exceeds what the Japanese market can absorb could bring them
around. Yamashita said the U.S. and Japan need to come up
with other measures beside trade to influence Iceland, but
that he has no ideas at the moment. Yamashita was glad to
hear of U.S. "support" for Japan's proposal to reduce its
catch. EMIN said rather Japan's offer is something we can
work with, and we would like to see the same out of Iceland.

¶6. (C/NF) Turning to harassment of the Japanese whaling
fleet by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS),
Yamashita said the NGO's actions have kept the fleet from
reaching its quota the last few years.
Yamashita said the
GOJ would come under pressure domestically if SSCS harassment
continues to keep Japanese whalers from filling their quota
after an agreement on reduced numbers is reached within the
. EMIN said the USG is concerned about the safety of life
at sea and is looking at the activity of the SSCS.


One thought on “WikiLeaks / Cablegate: Sea Shepherd, Not Greenpeace, A Threat To Japanese Whaling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s