Late February saw Australia warn Japan that the diplomacy maintained on whaling would come to an end this year, following the presentation of a valiant scheme to put a gradual stop to the notorious Southern Ocean hunts.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd reiterated a previous warning issued to Japan, where Australia even considered suing Japan for killing large numbers of minke whales who swim the seas near Antarctica every year for the sake of scientific research. Rudd further said that Australia did not support the practice, making it clear that their position on the issue was a firm one. He even said that they would be forced to instigate the necessary legal action if Japan did not come forth with a proposition on the gradual cutting down of the number of whales up to zero.
Tokyo however, deeming Australia’s proposal made at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) as ‘extremely regrettable’, chose to stand by its legality of whaling activities.
Rudd stated that Australia initially focused on trying to sort out the issue diplomatically, and said that this diplomacy will only last until the end of 2010. By this time, if Japan does not present any related proposals with regards to cutting back on whaling activities, Rudd said that international legal action would then be initiated.
The Australian plan presented at the IWC includes a reasonable five year grace period for the gradual phasing out of the hunting of the minke whale. Though Australia and Japan initially agreed to reach a diplomatic solution on the issue, recent clashes at sea between anti-whaling campaigners and Japanese fleets have led Australia to make stronger demands.