Why is so much whale meat ending up in people's houses? Last month, we cracked open the stolen whale meat scandal in Japan - we discovered that boxes of whale meat were smuggled off the Nisshin Maru and couriered to people's homes.
Now it's happening again - according to the export license for fin and minke whale meat shipped from Iceland and Norway, the final address was a private house in Tokyo. Now, we don't think that tonnes of meat have really been squeezed inside a small house. Instead, it seems to be sitting in limbo somewhere. We know that no import license has yet been granted, despite Icelandic claims that there's a market for the meat.
The would-be importer of the meat, Asian Trading Co. Ltd. uses the house's address, but the company has apparently dormant for the last four years, and only reactivated two weeks ago. According to the company register, the company's director and senior management staff resigned in June 2004, leaving the company inactive. The director re-registered the company on May 20th this year, as a "favour for a friend in Iceland", according to a spokesperson. This friend is evidently Iceland's Kristjan Loftsson, the exporter of the meat, and the only whaler left with capacity for large scale industrial whaling and the processing of large whales, such as fin whales.
This rather daft export attempt of an endangered species - fin whales are on the IUCN Red List also comes as the whaling industry in Japan is under investigation by the Tokyo district Public Prosecutor into allegations of embezzlement, following our revelations by Greenpeace that whale meat from the Southern Ocean is being taken by crew, with the knowledge of government and whaling fleet company officials, for sale on the black market.
With negotiations on the future of the International Whaling Commission at a critical stage, and the annual meeting taking place in two weeks time in Santiago, Japan now the chance to show it is serious by refusing to allow the import. If the meat is allowed come in by this rather murky and bizarre route, then it's really business as usual for Japan.
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