Japan Targets Migaloo?

Japan Fisheries Agency spokesman Hideki Moronuki has stated that Japan will not rule out harpooning Migaloo the beloved white whale that annually graces the Eastern coast of Australia during the winter migration. Two years ago when the Japanese Fisheries Agency spokesperson was asked if Migaloo would be included in the whale killing the answer was "he is a humpback, isn't he?"

Japanese whalers have refused to say if they will target white humpback whales such as Migaloo. As the Japanese whaling fleet prepares to leave port and head for the Antarctic, the Japan Fisheries Agency has given a firm "no comment" to questions about white whales.

The Japanese whaling fleet is preparing to depart from Japan on a criminal mission to target endangered humpback and fin whales in the Southern Whale Sanctuary. The ships have been given a quota of 50 humpbacks along with 50 fin whales and hundreds of the smaller minke whales this year.

Migaloo, whose Aboriginal name means White Fella, is believed to be the only completely white humpback whale in the world and is often spotted among the humpbacks which form the basis of Australia's whale-watching industry.

Australian Associated Press inquiries of Japan Fisheries Agency about the fate of Migaloo and other white whales were met with "no comment". Captain Paul Watson reacted to the report on the potential threat to Migaloo by accusing the Japanese of deliberately goading Australians.

"What Moronuki is saying is that Japan will do whatever it wishes, and to show contempt for Australians they have decided to target the beloved humpbacks. They will even kill Migaloo if they come across him. They are saying that Australians haven't got the guts to oppose them because Japan is the economic master of Australia and Australians have to accept everything the Japanese want for fear of losing resource sales to Japan. Japan is an economic bully and will continue to bully Aussies and Kiwis until some politician with a modicum of backbone decides to defend AnZac honour by kicking their ruthless whale killing asses out of the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary."

The Japanese have also officially requested that Australia and New Zealand detain the Sea Shepherd ship and crew to prevent any interference with their criminal activities. Japan Fisheries Agency spokesman Hideki Moronuki says the fleet will step up security this season after heated clashes with anti-whaling protesters in the Antarctic last summer.

"I need a kind of support from those two countries in order to secure the safety of our crews and our ships," said Moronuki.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not believe that the Australian government will interfere with Operation Migaloo.

"The Australian government is either with the whales and the people of Australia who love them, or they are with the whale killers of Japan and I don't think they want to be seen in bed with those harpoon toting Yakusa thug," said Captain Watson.

This is the transcript of the Interview by AAP journalist Shane McLeod with Captain Paul Watson and Japan Fisheries Agency spokesman Hideki Moronuki:

TONY EASTLEY: Japan is worried that its whaling fleet is going to be targeted by protesters on the high seas during its annual Southern Ocean hunt and it wants Australia and New Zealand to provide some protection.

Japan says its ships have been subject to terrorist-like action and says it's stepping up its own security for its crews.

But environmentalists say it's Japan that's been provoking confrontation, especially with its plans to kill up to 50 humpback whales this season.

North Asia correspondent Shane McLeod reports.

SHANE MCLEOD: Japanese officials won't say exactly when the ocean-going whaling fleet is due to depart on its annual Southern Ocean hunt. But it's expected to be within days.

And with Japan anticipating more confrontation on the high seas between its ships and environmental group Sea Shepherd, Fisheries Agency spokesman Hideki Moronuki is calling on Australia and New Zealand to ensure the safety of the Japanese fleet.

HIDEKI MORONUKI: Those two countries maintain the same position as Japan does against the violent action of terrorists... terrorism. So everybody can imagine that Sea Shepherd may take very dangerous illegal actions again, so I need the kindest support of those two countries in order to secure the safety of our crews and the (inaudible).

SHANE MCLEOD: Sea Shepherd and the Japanese fleet clashed last summer, before Japan's ships headed home early after an unrelated fire crippled the main whale processing ship, killing one crew member.

Mr. Moronuki says Sea Shepherd is engaging in environmental terrorism. He says Japan is stepping up measures to deal with the threat.

HIDEKI MORONUKI: We cannot take illegal actions even though the Sea Shepherd would take illegal, very dangerous illegal actions. So we have to take another legal actions in order to escape from dangerous actions by Sea Shepherd. It's very difficult what we should do, something.

SHANE MCLEOD: Sea Shepherd's captain Paul Watson says his organisation is not responsible for collisions with the Japanese ships last season.

And he says he's not worried by Japan stepping up its security measures.

PAUL WATSON: I don't think it'll have any impact at all. I mean, what we have to understand here is Japanese whaling is illegal. They're targeting endangered species in a whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on whaling.

We have the law on our side. We operate in accordance with the United Nations World Charter for Nature, which allows for non-government organisations to uphold international conservation law. If Japan acts... reacts violently to us, causes any injury at all to any of our people, that will backlash very severely upon Japan, because Japan is the criminal nation here. And last year, for instance, Japan accused us of ramming their vessels.

The Australian Federal Police did a forensic investigation and their evidence will back up our story on that: we were rammed by the Japanese. If I had have rammed the Japanese, I would probably have said so. But last year they hit us.

TONY EASTLEY: Paul Watson from Sea Shepherd, speaking there with Shane McLeod in Tokyo.

Transcript reprinted from: ABC Australia: AM radio: http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2007/s2087785.htm