Together At This Time, We Can Stop Henoko Relocation and Research Whaling!!We urge you to withdraw the plan to build a new U.S. Marine base which is currently underway offshore the coast of Henoko in Nago-City, Okinawa Prefecture. Please stop the whales capturing research (Cetacean Research) that has been taken place in the Antarctic Ocean. A compromise between the U.S. and Japan could protect the irreplaceable marine nature.
*This petition is not to question the need of coastal whaling.
*This petition is not to question the need of the U.S. military bases in Japan.
The Present Conditions of Dugongs and Whales
Dugongs are among the endangered marine mammals, barely more than a dozen remain in the northern limit of their habitat range around the main island of Okinawa. The utmost threat to these dugongs' survival around Okinawa is the moving-in of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma base to the Henoko coast in Nago-City, Okinawa, the main habitat of dugongs.
The 75% of The U.S. military bases in Japan are gathered in Okinawa Prefecture, and there have been various troubles happening from time to time to the urban area, such as crash accidents of helicopters. Hence, the governments of Japan and US have mutually agreed to build a new air station to replace Futenma, which currently centered in a city of Okinawa. However, the decided spot for Camp Swab offshore in Henoko of Nago-City is lived by the dugongs. The building of a new base will not only destroy the ocean ecosystem, the blue coral reefs and various living species in the area, and also will link to the survivals of the invaluable dugongs in the northernmost point as well as may drive to the animal's extinction.
Year 2010 is International Dugong Year. IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) since 2008 also has adopted recommendation to specifically protect the dugongs. On top of that, the US also puts into laws known as NHPA (National Historic Preservation Act). The citizens in both Japan and US have appealed to United States Department of Defense ("DOD" or known as the Pentagon) demanding to protect the dugongs, our invaluable World Heritage. In January 2008, the US Federal Court of California acknowledged that the Futenma construction would have negative influence to Okinawa dugongs and, therefore, ruled interlocutory judgment to NHPA; without dugong protection plans provided by NHPA, the Futenma construction project was not allowed to initiate as per order of DOD. However, the Pentagon has asserted that the decision should be at their discretion during consultation procedures after the verdict, and thus both parties at present time have not reached a consensus.
In Japan's general election last year, the new government has been elected with moving Futenma replacement facility out of Okinawa Prefecture as part of its manifesto. Because of the strong pressures from U.S. government for current Futenma plan proposal, the new Japanese government and its policies toward Futenma now are beginning to tremble. Meanwhile, according to the 2006 final report of U.S. Military Realignment Talk, the helicopters unit in Futenma Air Station is scheduled to be relocated to Guam by 2014. Somehow the original heliport relocation plan somewhere along the line has gradually changed to an expansion of a huge airport equipped with jet landing along with port facilities. We are still having so many questions to the new military base project. While Japanese government is having the "sympathy budget" and is speculating other concessions for the huge amount and various interests accompanied by the army base construction, we might lose the irreplaceable nature and wild animals in Okinawa as is.
International environment is ever changing and is constantly moving in fast pace. Relationships amid China, U.S., and Japan, as well as the security environment around Asia and the Far East have changed dramatically. According to the interaction between Russia and the United States, plans to deploy missiles in Europe have also been reviewed. The Japan-US Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security must also be revised as it should not be built upon the bearings of the two countries' citizens for the noises and pollution, the environmental destructions, as well as the large financial burdens.
The Antarctic Minke whales are known as ocean wildlife inhabiting in the southern hemisphere migrating within the exclusive economic zone of Australia, New Zealand and other South American countries, and they are loved by the people in those countries who very much respect the sea nature. Environmental groups, such as WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has been pointing out that because of the severe influence by global warming, some believes that both minke whales along with adelie penguins are facing extinctions. Still, hundreds of Minke whales every year are killed by the so-called "research" program - Japan is the only country in the world that continues to carry out large-scale whaling through high seas mother ships. The scientific research whaling thus far has not yet contributed anything to the understanding of the Antarctic Minke whales, and many questions toward the whales' social behavior during winter time still remain. The mainstreams conduct their surveys on large wild animals with low reproductive rates without killing them, and no other cases match Japan's continuous trapping and slaughtering hundreds of whales for research purpose.
IWC (International Whaling Committee) since 1994 has set up a sanctuary in the Southern Ocean with the priority specifically to protect whales. In the Antarctic ecosystem, whales are considered in the same biological group of penguins and seals as krill predators. In order to conserve the complete Antarctic ecosystem, the whales should be regarded equally with other wildlife that are protected by the Antarctic Treaty and must also be covered by ICRW (International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling). Yet, shielded by the "scientific whaling" pretext and its established provisions claiming discovery of around 10 new whale species, Japan continues to ignore the protests from around the world and persists on pursuing the whaling drive. In fact, like the commercial whaling era, captured whale meat is still being distributed and sold in the market. On the contrary, due to sluggish consumption, whale meat inventory has stocked up 5000 tons comparable to the production rate from the research whaling (August 2009). The Institute of Cetacean Research per annum receives over one billion yen grants from the Japanese government supporting its whaling operations but still reports operating deficits.
The Japanese government does not properly convey many facts to its people, such as the responsibilities for the over hunting also by the Japanese whaling companies in the past; that only some regions of Japan have had a tradition of eating meat from whales; the failure for the Japanese government to acknowledge and permit the traditional whaling by the Aynu, the aboriginal Japanese; to mistakenly comprehend the whale meat as simply a food materials rather than the gradually disappearing concepts of "Local Production for Local Consumption" and "No Exhaustive Use" as most importantly as Japanese traditional food culture; the misunderstanding and lack of knowledge to the fact that main reasons for depletion of fishing resources in the sea offshore Japan is by overfishing, not by the damages from overfeeding amid whales or other predator; and the controlling Japan Whaling Association and its entrusting an advertising agency to manipulate public opinions, etc.
IWC until last year had been trying to balance the discussion with Japan by exchanging the permission to a resumption of a properly controlled coastal whaling with Japan's agreement to the withdrawal of scientific whaling in stages within the high seas, but the Japanese government refused to accept the negotiation. This implies that the government treats high seas whaling a priority over traditional culture of utilizing its own natural resource around Japan's seacoast.
The General Assembly of IUCN in November 2008 urged all countries, including Japan, to participate the Dugong Memorandum of Understanding adopted in the Bonn Convention (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species) and to conserve all the dugong habitats. However, due to the Japan's whaling issue, the ratification of a treaty supposedly joint forced by 110 countries continues to be shelved. Japan's persistency on whaling policies will draw a major setback against the protection of wildlife, including sea turtles and dugongs, as well as many migratory birds.
President Obama has also been strongly criticizing Japan's scientific whaling. Meanwhile against NHPA's sanction, the US government's attitudes toward marine wildlife should be labeled double standard in the construction of the US military base that will threaten the survival of the dugongs.
We cannot stop Japan's whaling policies by relying merely on pressures from outside.
We cannot stop the construction of US military bases in Okinawa just by Japan alone.
What should we do to protect the marine wildlife?
There are still majority of people hoping to preserve the rich nature in the ocean.
Shouldn't we understand people's pain, acknowledge the responsibilities toward the nature in other parts of the world, and accept the mutual wishes?
We strongly believe that peace in the Far East region can be defended without sacrificing the natural beauty of the Okinawa sea.
Without forgoing a common heritage of mankind - the Antarctic Ocean, we can preserve Japan's traditional cultures.
To save dugongs in Okinawa, please join us in gathering the strength from each corner of the world.
To save whales in Antarctic Ocean, please raise your voice, starting from people in Japan.
Give Peace to the Dugongs and Whales!
*This petition ventures to gain the broad supports from the citizens of both countries in U.S. and Japan, not to question neither the necessities of coastal whaling nor the U.S. military bases in Japan. We need both countries to pay more attentions to the backwardness of marine wildlife protection in Japan and the environmental destructions around the world accompanied by the U.S. military bases. Please understand that this petition calling for the bans of the U.S. military base relocation to Henoko, Okinawa, as well as of the research whaling in south sea, is mainly the initial seeker of the broad attentions from both countries' citizens.
Although there are still a few other places in Okinawa that are lined up at the moment to replace Henoko of Nago-City for Futenma Air Station relocations, our ultimate goal is to stop any relocations that would adversely affect the dugongs habitats in the area.
Deadline for your signature is soon! Please sign today on this Care2 page, it takes only seconds. (Signatures must all be received on or before May 10th, 2010. )
Please visit Kame-Kujira-Neko website. Thank you.
For this petition in Japanese, please click here.
This petition is supported by:
Robert Siegel (Author), USA
Hideo Obara (Professor Emeritus of Animal Ecology at Kagawa Education Institute of Nutrition), Japan
Help Animals, Japan
Ecolo Japan, Japan
Taiji Dolphin Action Group (T.D.A.G.), USA
Oceanic Defense, USA
Whale Communicators, USA
Iruka Wo Mamoru Kai (Protect Dolphins), Japan
Choices for Tomorrow (CFT), USA