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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Revealed: Japan’s bribes on whaling
A Sunday Times investigation has exposed Japan for bribing small nations with cash and prostitutes to gain their support for the mass slaughter of whales.
The undercover investigation found officials from six countries were willing to consider selling their votes on the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The revelations come as Japan seeks to break the 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling. An IWC meeting that will decide the fate of thousands of whales, including endangered species, begins this month in Morocco.
Japan denies buying the votes of IWC members. However, The Sunday Times filmed officials from pro-whaling governments admitting:
- They voted with the whalers because of the large amounts of aid from Japan. One said he was not sure if his country had any whales in its territorial waters. Others are landlocked.
- They receive cash payments in envelopes at IWC meetings from Japanese officials who pay their travel and hotel bills.
- One disclosed that call girls were offered when fisheries ministers and civil servants visited Japan for meetings.
Barry Gardiner, an MP and former Labour biodiversity minister, said the investigation revealed “disgraceful, shady practice”, which is “effectively buying votes”.
The reporters, posing as representatives of a billionaire conservationist, approached officials from pro-whaling countries and offered them an aid package to change their vote.
The governments of St Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Republic of Guinea and Ivory Coast all entered negotiations to sell their votes in return for aid.
The top fisheries official for Guinea said Japan usually gave his minister a “minimum” of $1,000 a day spending money in cash during IWC and other fisheries meetings.
He said three Japanese organisations were used to channel the payments to his country: the fisheries agency, the aid agency and the Overseas Fisheries Co-operation Foundation.
Japan has recruited some of the world’s smallest countries on to the IWC to bolster its support. A senior fisheries official for the Marshall Islands said: “We support Japan because of what they give us.”
A Kiribati fisheries official said his country’s vote was determined by the “benefit” it received in aid. He, too, said Japan gave delegates expenses and spending money.
The IWC commissioner for Tanzania said “good girls” were made available at the hotels for ministers and senior fisheries civil servants during all-expenses paid trips to Japan.
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