Switzerland has added its voice to the international outcry over Japan's whaling policy. Representatives of 15 countries have urged Japan, the world's largest consumer of whale meat, to halt its research whaling.
Japan has drawn fire from non-whaling nations and conservationist groups for killing hundreds of minke whales each year. It gave up commercial whaling in compliance with the 1986 ban but has carried out what it calls "scientific research" whaling since 1987.
The Swiss Coalition for the Protection of Whales has condemned Tokyo for what it calls "Japan's multi-million dollar domestic market for whale meat and blubber," which is not intended for scientific purposes, but for "two existing 'programmes' in the Pacific and Antarctic."
The group's leader, the Irish ambassador to Japan, Declan O'Donovan, has asked the foreign ministry that Japan refrain from whaling in the northern Pacific and in the Southern Ocean sanctuary, in line with resolutions of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The Japanese news agency, Kyodo, said a foreign ministry official had replied that Japan's current whaling programme follows that of the international whaling convention and that he would convey the group's request and concerns to all government sections involved.
Apart from Switzerland, the group includes Australia, Brazil, Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Sweden and the United States.
At an IWC meeting in Adelaide last month, Japan and Norway blocked an attempt to establish an ocean sancturay to protect whale breeding grounds in the South Pacific.
swissinfo with agencies
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