Japanese whaling gives Clinton/Gore a chance to boost credentials

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2000:

Aware that support of Norwegian and Native
American whaling is the one environmental
albatross around U.S. Vice President Albert
Gore’s neck in his Presidential bid, outgoing
President Bill Clinton gave anti-whaling sanctions
against Japan a high profile as the campaign
hit the home stretch.
The piece-de-resistance was a
September 13 announcement delivered by
White House Chief of Staff John Podesta that,
“The President is directing the Secretary of
State to inform the Japanese government that it
will be denied future access to fishing rights in
U.S. waters.”

The Clinton/Gore administration
also ordered the U.S. Commerce Department
to consider trade sanctions against Japan within
two months if Japan does not satisfactorily
comply with the intent of International
Whaling Commission resolutions. One resolution
approved by the IWC this year called for
an end to so-called “research whaling,” the
pretext Japan uses for killing whales in annually
increasing numbers.
“The main newspapers in Tokyo dismissed
Clinton’s order as an election ploy,”
Doug Struck of the Washington Post F o r e i g n
Service reported from Tokyo. “In fact,
Japanese fishers have not plied territorial
waters––within 200 miles of the U.S.
coast––for 12 years. And Clinton’s action,
[the Tokyo daily] Mainichi Shimbun n o t e d ,
steers away from trade sanctions that Japan
might successfully appeal to the World Trade
However, “Washington D.C. has
signalled that it will allow foreign vessels back
into U.S. waters next year,” wrote Michael
Millett of the Australian newspaper Melbourne
Age, “with Japan excluded. Japan is concerned
that the exclusion may be extended to
the U.S. protectorate of Guam, depriving it of
valuable fields for tuna and bonito.”
Added Struck, “Japan has said that
it will reduce its catch, perhaps killing only
one of the great sperm whales who have
become a galvanizing symbol of the issue. But
the U.S. pressure has prompted an uncharacteristically
harsh reaction in Tokyo,” which
played in the U.S. to Clinton/Gore––and candidate

Rising pressure
The six-vessel Japanese whaling
fleet sailed on July 29, targeting 10 sperm
whales, 50 Bryde’s whales, and 160 minke
whales. In all, Japan planned to kill up to 560
whales this year.
Although Japan began hunting
minke whales in the name of research almost
as soon as it joined the then-two-year-old IWC
moratorium on commercial whaling in 1988,
it had not hunted other protected species––at
least officially.
The first Bryde’s whale was reportedly
killed within hours after the sailing.
Sile de Valera, the Irish Minister for
the Arts, Heritage, and the Islands, raised her
strong objections to the expanded whaling in
an early August direct discussion with Kazuko
Yokoo, the Japanese ambassador to Ireland.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright delivered a similar message to Japan
about a week later, hinting that the Clinton
administration might respond with trade sanctions.
Her warning played well to the public,
and the White House thereafter raised the pressure
on Japan in weekly increments.
The next gesture was a letter of
protest signed by the U.S. and 14 other
nations, hand-delivered to Japan by the Irish
ambassador. Then the U.S. on August 31
boycotted a 51-nation conference of the United
Nations Economic and Social Commission for
Asia and the Pacific, held on the southern
Japanese island of Kyushu.
Japanese leaders scoffed. Masayuki
Komatsu, head of the Japanese delegation to
the International Whaling Commission,
argued that economic sanctions would chiefly
hurt American workers. Shunji Yanai,
Japanese ambassador to the U.S., suggested
that Japan might invoke retaliatory sanctions.
Japan further defied global opinion
on October 1, when 13 vessels sailed from
Taiji, near Tokyo, to kill a quota of 22,000
dolphins, short-finned pilot whales, and porpoises.
Their remains will be sold in lieu of
whale meat. Though many small cetaceans are
as rare as some of the great baleen whales, no
whale smaller than a minke is covered by the
International Whaling Commission.
In Britain the Environmental
Investigation Agency rallied opposition to the
Japanese dolphin slaughter with gruesome
undercover video of last year’s hunt.

Japanese public
A recent poll based on direct interviews,
jointly commissioned by the International
Fund for Animal Welfare and
Greenpeace International, found that only one
Japanese adult in 10 supports whaling, and
more than 60% have not eaten whale meat
since childhood.
The Japanese newspaper A s a h i
S h u m b u n cautiously criticized the Japanese
government’s attitude, without criticizing
whaling per se.
“Japan is demanding that commercial
whaling be resumed, but the ocean-going
whaling industry is long since dead and there
is no longer any real need to be concerned for
the economic welfare of the nation’s once
numerous whalers and whaling-related business,”
the Asahi Shumbun editorialists wrote.
“Such being the case,” they continued, “Japan
would be wise to refrain from provoking antiwhaling
nations…Slowly and patiently is the
way to go, if the purpose of continued whaling
is not to revive oceanic whaling per se, but to
keep alive an old culinary tradition.”
Agreed Yomiuri Shumbun, “There
is little to be gained by being heavy-handed.
Rather, there is major risk that it could fuel
support for the antiwhaling lobby.”
But Seiji Ohsumi, head of the
Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research, was
defiant in an interview with Japan Times staff
writer Mick Corliss.
Reported Corliss, “The U.S. stance
is a ridiculous double standard, Ohsumi said,
pointing out that it is also a whaling nation, as
Native Americans in Alaska and Washington
annually kill whales on a comparable level.
The number caught is less, but the whales
caught are far larger. The IWC permits
Alaskan Eskimos to kill an average of around
50 bowhead whales per year, and permits the
Makah tribe in Washington state to kill an
average of four grey whales per year.”
The winter Alaskan bowhead whaling
season was to start on October 2, with
about half of this year’s quota yet to be struck.
Earlier in the year, the whalers lost as many
bowheads to sinkage as they were able to land.
The Makah, in three years of sporadic
attempts to kill grey whales, have actually
killed only one, a young female who was
harpooned and shot in May 1999.

Beer bust
Meanwhile in Taiji, Associated
Press writer Ginny Parker said, “Beer flowed
and cheers went up on September 21 as a ship
pulled into port carrying 88 whales: 43
Bryde’s whales, five sperm whales, and 40
minke whales.”
Video clips of the celebration also
helped Gore––and upstaged attempts by the
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and
Citizen Action to remind voters via the
Internet that Gore in 1993 sealed the sale of
$261 million worth of missiles to Norway by
tacitly agreeing at a White House meeting with
then-Norwegian prime minister Gro Bruntland
to say nothing about the unilateral Norwegian
revival of coastal commercial whaling.
Gore also led the series of U.S. delegations
to the International Whaling Commission
annual meetings which––according to the
official U.S. interpretation––in 1998 won a
hunting quota of up to four grey whales per
year for the Makah tribe of Washington state.
Other IWC members including those
who introduced the resolution that supposedly
set the quota still dispute the U.S. view of what
they voted for. The resolution authorized a
subsistence quota of grey whales to be divided
among U.S. and Russian indigenous tribes,
but the Makah admittedly had no subsistence
need for whale meat and had not killed whales
in 70 years.

Tuna standard
The Clinton/Gore administration was
quieter about negotiations held with Mexico on
September 28 and 29 about allowing the
Mexican tuna industry to use “dolphin-safe”
can labels on exports to U.S. markets. Both
Clinton and Gore strongly favored the 1997
law which changed the “dolphin-safe” standard
from requiring that a nation’s tuna fleet
kill no dolphins, to allowing up to 5,000 dolphin
deaths. The Mexican tuna industry
claims to have killed fewer than 5,000 dolphins
per year since 1993.
Knowing that tuna typically swim
beneath dolphins, fishers seek tuna by looking
for dolphins leaping from the waves, and draw
nets around the dolphins to catch the tuna––a
procedure which formerly drowned hundreds
of thousands of dolphins, because the fishers
rarely took the time to allow them to escape
before winching the nets in.
The original “dolphin-safe” standard,
adopted by Congress in 1990, in effect prohibited
netting tuna “on dolphin,” but caused
fishers to use “log sets” instead. This method
consists of drawing nets around floating logs,
which tend to attract the small fish that tuna
feed upon, and thereby attract tuna too. “Log
sets” rarely kill dolphins, but do kill large
numbers of endangered sharks and sea turtles.
The revised “dolphin-safe” standard
was favored by most major U.S. conservation
groups, but was opposed by most humane
societies, which argued that instead of sacrificing
dolphins to save sharks and sea turtles,
the U.S. should require tuna fishers to avoid all
accidental bycatch.

It was easy for Gore to keep a clean
image on environmental issues anyway after
Republican Presidential nominee George W.
Bush on September 29 came out in favor of
opening 1.5 million acres of the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Observed Washington Post s t a f f
writer Mike Allen, “Bush and his running
mate, Richard B. Cheney, are both former oilmen,
and Gore supporters often refer to them
as ‘The Big Oil ticket.’”
Bush has politically favored the oil
industry––and canned hunts––in his current
post as governor of Texas. For his pro-hunting
position, Bush was recently named “Governor
of the Year” by Safari Club International.
Cheney, summarized Gail Collins of
The New York Times, “spent most of his
career in government, but the arrival of the
Clinton administration left him cooling his
heels at a conservative think tank,” until “in
1995 he went salmon fishing with Thomas
Cruikshank, chairman of the Halliburton
Company, a huge energy services business,

who liked Cheney so much that he recommended
him as his successor, at a salary of
more than $1 million a year and oodles of
stock options. During his tenure there, the
future vice presidential candidate’s big coup
was a merger with the company’s chief rival,
Dresser Industries, whose chief executive
Cheney won over during a quail hunt.
Cheney’s ability to fish and shoot his way to
serious money,” Collins wrote, “should
inspire all careerists who worry that inability
to play golf stands between them and success.”

Green ticket
Readers of both ANIMAL PEOP
L E and Best Friends magazine were confused
by conflicting descriptions in the
October editions of Winona LaDuke, the
Green Party candidate for U.S. Vice President.
As ANIMAL PEOPLE explained ,
LaDuke is an outspoken advocate of Native
American hunting, fishing, trapping, and
whaling, whose nomination was strongly
opposed by New Jersey Green Party candidate
and animal rights advocate Stuart Chaifetz.
Yet Best Friends introduced LaDuke
as “VP for animals.”
Said Best Friends, Inc. cofounder
and president Michael Mountain, “We definitely
goofed. We were supposed to be interviewing
Green Party Presidential candidate
Ralph Nader to ask him about how his nontalk
about animals squares with the Greens’
written platform,” which this year includes a
passage more-or-less excerpted from a discussion
document circulated since 1988. “Then
he bowed out,” Mountain continued, “and the
Greens recommended us to LaDuke. We
already have a letter from the Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society about LaDuke and her
support of Makah whaling, which will be in
our next edition.”

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