The reality of vote buying
The main reason behind this reversal is the Japanese
government'sdetermined, and expensive, vote buying program. Japan
has one ofthe world's largest economies (third globally by
purchasing power), andit is no secret Japan leverages foreign aid
for political gain. As reported recently in the
Earlier this year it [Japan] pledgedmore than US$1 million to
the Pacific island of Tuvalu, a pro-whalingIWC member, and has
reached similar deals with Nauru and Kiribati andother desperately
poor countries in the Pacific. Last week it isbelieved to have
offered a large aid package to other Pacificcountries. It has also
invited the heads of state of seven Africancountries and eight
Caribbean and Central American countries to visitTokyo in the last
year. All are expected to vote with Japan at St Kitts.
At least US$300 million was given last year to Antigua,
Dominica,Grenada, Panama, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines,
and St Kittsand Nevis.
(Friday, Jun 02, 2006)
Japan's whalers are so certain their control of the IWC is
assured,last whaling season they increased their self allotted
Antarctic quotato a maximum of 945 whales - including 10 endangered
fin whales (secondin size only to blue whales).
In the 2007/8 it goes higher as they up the number of fin to 50,
andadd another 50 endangered humpbacks on top of that. The
whalersalready catch so many whales there isn't room on their
factory ship forall the meat, and a refrigerated cargo ship is sent
to the Antarctic totake boxes of whale meat back to Japan. Even
still, they dumptons of whale overboard - taking home only the more
profitablecuts. After all, why not? Who is there to tell
themotherwise? Up till now, the IWC has regularly condemned
Japan'sso called "scientific" whaling, but with the whaler's in
control itwill more likely pat them on the back.
Governments stand up to whaling
Some of the governments that helped enact the Southern Ocean
WhaleSanctuary (1994) and moratorium on commercial whaling (1986)
have, infact, tried to protect these gains. This past year 17
nations(including Brazil, Australia and the UK) issued a strongly
wordeddiplomatic demarche pointing out:
"Japan is now killing more whales inthe Antarctic every year
than it killed for scientific research in the31 years prior to the
introduction of the moratorium on commercialwhaling."
The governments further expressed "grave concerns" that the
ongoinghunt, "will undermine the long-term viability," of both fin
But it looks like this strong diplomatic action, and ministerial
levelvisits to some new IWC members, will not be enough to keep
Japan fromtaking over. The reality is that the Japanese government
haschosen to spend more money and political capital on whaling
thangovernments in favour of protecting the whales. There is on
somelevels probably a disbelief that the whalers can win back
control ofthe IWC - intuitively it just doesn't make sense
considering the messthey made of it before sanity prevailed in the
early eighties. But for years now the warning signs have been
clear. No matterwhat happens at this year's meeting, it should be
a wake up call forthe conservation minded governments of the
So who is there left to stop whaling?
Mostly the people reading these words. From here on it's
largelydown to us. And around the world individuals are banding
togetherin common cause to defend the whales. During the last
whalingseason we took on Nissui - one of the world's largest
seafood companiesand also a one-third shareholder in Kyodo Senpaku,
which owns andoperates the whaling fleet.
Across the planet, Nissui subsidiaries heard from angry
shoppers. Organizations like the Humane Society and Environmental
InvestigationsAgency joined in. Greenpeace Ocean Defenders sent a
total of 100,000emails to Nissui-related companies. And Nissui lost
seafood supplycontracts in Argentina after Ocean Defenders placed
stickers denouncingwhaling on Nissui products in supermarkets and
sent more than 20,000emails.
Before the whaling season was over, Nissui had decided to get
out ofthe whaling industry because, as reported in the Nikkan Kugyo
"Overseas subsidiaries are having bigproblems. As our business
has globalized, whaling has become a hiddenrisk", said Mr. Naoya
Itagaki, the president of Nissui which takes thebrunt of the
criticisms against its involvement in whaling because oftheir share
holding position in Kyodo-Senpaku.
(June 8th 2006, morning edition, Greenpeace translation)
In reality, Nissui's move was simply good business sense.
Asidefrom international pressure, demand for whale meat has
plummeted, evenin Japan. Stockpiles of whale meat there have
nearly doubled overthe last decade to 5,000 tonnes. There's so
much unwanted whalemeat that it's being sold as doggie treats, and
an expanded schoollunch program is in the works - with the hope of
getting Japanese kidsused to eating it. The whaling industry in
Norway is experiencingsimilar difficulties.
Would Japan's take over of the International Whaling Commission
be adisastrous setback for the whales? Yes. But would it be
theend of the story? We will see about that.
For updates from our delegates in St Kitts see the
Defending Our Oceans political blog.
Ask representatives of the governments who voted for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to defend it.
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