As Japan prepares to relaunch its commercial whaling practices, environmentalists have called for leaders at the G20 summit to speak up. Japan stopped commercial whaling more than 30 years ago.
Celebrities Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais and scientist Jane Goodall are among more than 100 activists and conservation charities calling for leaders to use the G20 Summit to confront host Japan over its plans to continue commercial whaling.
Letters have been sent to all G20 leaders, urging them to stage an "international whaling intervention" at the summit and push for an end to all commercial whaling, a group statement said.
The plea comes ahead of Japan's withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) on Sunday before it resumes commercial whaling on Monday after more than 30 years.
Japan continued to conduct whaling for its controversial scientific research program, but many whaling opponents questioned the program's supposed scientific credentials.
Withdrawal from IWC 'renegade'
"This week, while one part of the Japanese government is proudly facilitating international cooperation by hosting the G20 meeting, another is quietly extricating itself from the obligation for global collaboration on the protection and management of the world's whales," said Kitty Block, president of Humane Society International, in the group statement.
"Japan leaving the IWC and defying international law to pursue its commercial whaling ambitions is renegade, retrograde and myopic," Block said.
Hunt quota unknown
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is among those in Japan who have long pushed to resume commercial whaling.
Tokyo claims that many whale species are not endangered and argues that eating whale is a cherished cultural tradition. It has said it will stop the Antarctic research whaling that killed some 330 minke whales a year, but will hunt minkes, sei whales and Bryde's whales in its exclusive economic zone. The hunt quota has not yet been announced.
Consumption of whale peaked in the early 1960s and has been diminishing ever since. Barely 300 people are directly connected to whaling, and whale represented only about 0.1% of Japan's total meat consumption in 2016.