From: Associated Press
Published July 11, 2005 12:00 AM

Iceland Tells Japan Cooperation on Commercial Whaling Possible

TOKYO — Iceland told fellow pro-whaling ally Japan Monday that it might be possible to cooperate on commercial whaling, officials said.


At present, Japan and Iceland kill a limited number of whales annually for research purposes despite staunch opposition from anti-whaling nations like the United States and Australia, which call such hunts unnecessary and a threat to conservation efforts.


"If we begin commercial whaling in the future, I think there will be ways to cooperate with Japan," Icelandic Prime Minister Halldor Asgrimsson told his Japanese counterpart Junichiro Koizumi Monday.


Asgrimsson did not elaborate on what kind of cooperation he envisioned, a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.


Koizumi told Asgrimsson that "it is encouraging that Japan and Iceland are cooperating internationally on whaling."


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Japan and Iceland had unsuccessfully pushed to overturn a 1986 ban on commercial whale hunts during the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting last month in South Korea.


Japan announced at the meeting that it plans to more than double its annual research hunts. It currently catches 440 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean and 210 others in coastal waters in the northwestern Pacific.


Iceland also conducts research hunts, which it resumed in 2003 after a 14-year halt.


Norway holds the world's only commercial whaling season in defiance of the IWC ban.


Source: Associated Press


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