Of Whales and WikiLeaks: Activists clash with hunting boat as US, Japan talks revealed

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Japanese and American officials discussed taking action to weaken Sea Shepherd, a prominent anti-whaling group, according to the documents released by WikiLeaks on Monday. The diplomatic cables, dated January 1, show Japanese officials repeatedly told US counterparts the group's actions were making whaling a political issue and hurting any chance of a compromise on the numbers of whales killed each year. Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd released a video purportedly showing Japanese whalers shooting water cannons at anti-whaling activists on Saturday.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is chasing the Japanese hunting fleet in the hopes of interrupting Japan's annual whale hunt, which kills up to 1,000 whales annually and typically lasts from December to February. Japan hunts whales under the research exemption to a 1986 worldwide ban on commercial hunts. Critics say there is no reason to kill the animals, and the research programme amounts to commercial whaling in disguise because surplus meat from the hunt is sold domestically.

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