What are likely to be first victims of the Liberal Democratic Party's victory on December 16?
Japan-Australia relations, Japan-New Zealand relations and a few hundred minke whales.
Under pressure from pro-pelagic whaling members of the Diet, the government has had to abandon its plan to allow the industry to die from neglect. Rather than force the Nisshin Maru mothership to sit in port undergoing a much-needed retrofit throughout the length of the Antarctic summer, the government seems to have acceded to the ship's departing for the austral summer hunt having only undergone half-a-retrofit.
Why the government saw it necessary to lower safety standards and allow the whaling vessel set off to sail some of the world's most daunting seas is a mystery. Then again, the Democratic Party of Japan's bifurcated approach toward pelagic whaling has been baffling. The pelagic hunt was effectively nationalized through the government's paying off the Institute of Cetacean Research's debts – infamously, as we all recall, through the supplementary budget for Tohoku recovery. The Nisshin Maru was observed on the 13th having its engines tested at Innoshima in Hiroshima Prefecture (Link - J) which is in a swing district that until December 16 was represented by a DPJ member However, Nisshin Maru is homeported in Shimonoseki, represented in the Diet by a certain Mr. Abe Shinzo. (Link)
It is not like the DPJ was helping itself by bailing out the industry.
Abe could still stiff his constituents in a gesture of goodwill toward the Australian government. After all, his predecessor Noda Yoshihiko betrayed his constituents by selling out on electoral district reform, getting nothing in return.
I would not count on Abe making the strategic decision, however.
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