"We'll take Japan to court", says PM. This will have a major adverse impact in Japan. It will be seen as a loss of face. Japanese consumers are highly likely to stop buying farm products of Australian origin. Rudd should butt out of something that is none of his business. Once Australia is seen as a hostile nation by Japanese consumers, there will be no rebuilding of Australia's farm-products trade for a very long time. Japanese tourists are also important for Australian business and that could come to a grinding halt too
KEVIN Rudd has vowed to take Japan to the International Court of Justice if it doesn't agree by November to stop Antarctic whaling, but a behind-closed-doors deal could blow a big hole in his case before then. A proposed compromise in the International Whaling Commission that allowed Japan to continue so-called scientific whaling, on a more restricted basis, could wreck Australia's claim that the practice is illegal under international law.
The Prime Minister yesterday demanded Japan reduce its Antarctic research quota to zero, from this summer's maximum 985 whales. "If we don't get that as a diplomatic agreement, let me tell you, we'll be going to the International Court of Justice," Mr Rudd said. "Secondly, if we don't reach a landing point with the Japanese diplomatically, that action will occur well before the commencement of the next whaling season, which is this November, OK?"
The ICJ president until 2012 is Hisashi Owada, a former head of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and father of Crown Princess Masako, wife of the heir to the Japanese throne.
Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, who meets Mr Rudd in Sydney today, said last night he wanted to know exactly what yesterday's comments meant. "I would like to ask him directly what his real intention was from his comment," Mr Okada said. "However, I understand he addressed that comment with discretion, making the precondition `if we don't get that as (diplomatic) discussion', so I do not see a big difference."
Liberal environment spokesman Greg Hunt criticised the ultimatum for postponing beyond the federal election a promise Mr Rudd first made as opposition leader in 2007: "He made the promise; he hasn't kept it." However, the new pledge is more categorical than Mr Rudd's recent assurances the government would act unless there was diplomatic "progress" before the IWC's June annual meeting. Mr Rudd has been heavily criticised by voters over the unmet promise, and was again yesterday on the Seven Network's Sunrise program before making his surprise commitment.
The Japanese fleet is expected to continue hunting for another three weeks in Antarctic waters, a large area Australia claims as an exclusive economic zone.
Following a series of hazardous clashes with a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel, activist Peter Bethune leapt on to a Japanese vessel on Monday and is being taken to Tokyo for possible criminal charges.
Meanwhile, a "support group" of a dozen nations, including Australia and Japan, is trying to negotiate a compromise on the question that threatens the IWC's existence. The group is rumoured to be working privately on a deal limiting, but not halting, Antarctic scientific whaling and allowing commercial whaling in Japanese waters. Environmentalists and lawyers fear IWC acceptance of any scientific whaling as legitimate would be fatal for an international action based on illegality. The group's chairman is expected to report progress on Monday.
Environmental groups will ask Environment Minister Peter Garrett on Tuesday for an assurance Australia won't support any IWC compromise.
Posted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here