Celebrities and environmentalists are asking Japan to rescind its decision to resume whaling, condemning "the cruel and archaic practice that has no place in the 21st century".
An open letter to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe criticizes Tokyo's decision to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) as activists plan a peaceful protest outside the Japanese Embassy in London on Saturday.
Actors Ricky Gervais and Joanna Lumley, broadcasters Stephen Fry and Ben Fogle and naturalist Chris Packham are among the signatories. Packham said: "To the chagrin of the rest of the world, Japan intends to start killing whales again. We do not need statements of disgust, we need sanctions that will hurt. If shame will not turn the Japanese, the economic suffering could ensue. "
Japan faces international condemnation after confirming in December that it will resume commercial whaling in July for the first time in more than 30 years. Greenpeace challenged Japan's view that whale stocks have recovered.
Japan has killed 8,201 minke whales in Antarctica since 1986, activists said.
The protest march in front of the Japanese Embassy in London is scheduled for Saturday at noon and organized by the London Committee for the Abolition of the Whale.
Fogle, patron of wilderness at the UN, said, "Whaling is an odious practice that offends our most basic humanity. I call on Japan to consider the wealth of global voices calling for an end to the senseless slaughter of whales, once and for all. "
The open letter asks Abe to stop whaling and join the IWC. "There is no human way to kill a whale. Whales die in agony when they are harpooned, often taking a long time to die in bloody and bloody conditions, "he says.
"There is really no justification or need to resume commercial whaling for cultural, commercial, scientific or ethical reasons," the letter published in the Daily Telegraph adds.
In Japan, where the amount of whale meat consumed fell from 233,000 tons in 1962 to 3,000 tons in 2016, there is "obviously more demand for this meat," the letter says.
He adds that it is "essential" to preserve the law on the prohibition of whaling and that some species of whales, almost exterminated because of whaling, are slowly recovering.
The signatories also include primatologist Jane Goodall, actress Virginia McKenna and Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation, television and radio presenter Nicky Campbell, naturalist Steve Backshall and journalist Selina Scott.