Former screen siren Brigitte Bardot has joined forces with militant environmentalists to call on Japan to halt its "campaign of death" in the annual Antarctic whale hunt.
In a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the sixties sex kitten said it was "indecent" for the Japanese government to be spending an additional $27 million on beefed-up security for this year's hunt.
"Whales are endangered and each animal killed is a crime against biodiversity," said the French actress, who heads the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.
Earlier this month, Tokyo announced that the whaling fleet would be protected in Antarctic waters by a naval escort in a bid to fend off harassment from groups such as Sea Shepherd, which pursues the boats.
Bardot said it was perverse to be spending money on sheltering whalers at a time when "the international community has come to the aid of the victims of the tsunami" that hit the northeast of Japan on March 11.
The one-time pin-up said her foundation had helped to buy a new vessel for Sea Shepherd to boost the campaign to stop the Japanese "fleet of death" this year.
"The Sea Shepherd fleet will be there with my friend, Captain Paul Watson at the helm of the trimaran The Brigitte Bardot in the fight against the brigands and the murderers of the sea," she said.
Commercial whaling is banned under an international treaty but Japan uses a loophole to carry out "lethal research" on the creatures in the name of science.
It makes no secret of the fact that whale meat from this research ends up on dinner tables and in restaurants.
Sea Shepherd, a US-based outfit, claimed a victory of sorts earlier this year when Japan cut short its hunt by a month after repeated harassment from the group, having caught around a fifth of its target.
Activists have pursued the fleet through Antarctic waters, hurled stink bombs and tried their best to obstruct the hunt, which they say is commercial and has no basis in science.
In her letter to Noda, dated Monday, Bardot also called on Japan to help "the thousands of animals" abandoned in an exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, which began leaking radiation in the aftermath of the tsunami.
Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from a 20-kilometre (12-mile) area around the plant because of potentially dangerous levels of radiation, leaving domestic pets and farm animals to fend for themselves.
She said the government should use the $27 million that it intends to spend on protecting the whaling fleet to help people affected by the tsunami and to "come to the aid of animals condemned to die in terrible conditions."