TOKYO — Interpol this week placed the head of US-based anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd on an international wanted list at Japan's request, authorities in Tokyo said Friday.
The Japan Coastguard was informed by Interpol Thursday about the listing of Canadian Paul Watson, 59, for allegedly conspiring to harass whaling ships in Antarctic clashes in February, a coastguard spokeswoman said.
The coastguard filed the request with the French-based police service in April as part of Japan's long-running battle with militant environmentalists from Watson's Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Kyodo News said Japan had asked Interpol to issue a so-called blue notice, asking national police forces to provide information on Watson's whereabouts and activities, but not a red notice requesting his arrest.
Japan hunts whales under a loophole to an international moratorium that allows the killing of the sea mammals for scientific research, but it does not hide the fact that the meat is later sold in shops and restaurants.
Sea Shepherd has long sought to obstruct Japan's whalers and this year claimed its most successful season yet by preventing the harpoon ships from killing hundreds of the ocean giants.
Japanese authorities say the activists inflicted chemical burns on whaling crews by throwing bottles of butyric acid, which the Sea Shepherd group describes as rancid-butter stink bombs.
Sea Shepherd's futuristic powerboat the Ady Gil, carrying six crew, sank after it was sliced in two in a collision with the whaling fleet's security ship in January.
The boat's captain Peter Bethune later boarded a whaling ship and was detained. He is now on trial in Tokyo for trespass, causing injury and other charges. Prosecutors have demanded two years in prison for the New Zealander.
The court is due to deliver its verdict on July 7.