Vote-buying whistle-blower urges Europe to stop Japan at the whaling commission

Press release - 26 April, 2002
A former environment minister who resigned in protest over the Japanese government´s vote buying activities went on record condemning the use of Japanese foreign aid to buy votes from developing countries in the run up to the meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Japan. A new dossier released by Greenpeace and backed by Atherton Martin, the former Dominican environment minister reveals the extent of Japan´s vote buying activities.

Greenpeace action against Japanese whaling in Southern Ocean.

In the past, a senior official from the Fisheries Agency of Japan hasadmitted that they use Japan´s Overseas Development Assistance to buythe allegiance of developing countries.(1) Martin´s tour kicks off therelease of a dossier by Greenpeace outlining the evidence of Japan´svote buying activities.(2)

The 54th annual meeting of the IWC will take place in May in thehome port of the Japanese whaling fleet. It promises to be acontinuation of a bitter fight between the Fisheries Agency of Japanand conservation-minded governments and environmental groups on theissue of the resumption of commercial whaling.

"I find it alarming that Japan uses development assistance in orderto manipulate the voting behavior of this government at the IWC," saidAtherton Martin, speaking at a Greenpeace press conference inStockholm. "It is unworthy, unacceptable, and must be rejected. Thereis absolutely no reason to accept any extortion from Japan withOverseas Development Aid promises."

Martin is presently on a tour of European capitals requestingforeign ministers of the respective countries to condemn the Japanesegovernment's vote buying in the International Whaling Commission. He isasking European governments to honor the principles of the CotonouAgreement that calls on them to work with developing countries aspartners.(3) He asserts that European governments should base theircondemnation of Japan upon the principles that vote buying is anunethical approach to the conduct of international relations, and thatthe best way to counter vote buying is to ensure the implementation ofplans for sustainable development as enshrined by the Cotonou Agreement.

Atherton Martin was Minister of Agriculture, Planning and theEnvironment with full responsibility for Fisheries for Dominica in theWest Indies. He resigned during the 2000 International WhalingCommission (IWC) meeting after his government representative voted withJapan against the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary proposal. He laterrevealed that Japanese officials came to Dominica and threatened thatthey would withhold planned grants for fisheries buildings if Dominicadid not vote with them at the IWC. The government of Dominicacapitulated along with five other Eastern Caribbean countries (4) andthe South Pacific Whale Sanctuary was not established

Atherton Martin´s European tour comesfour weeks before the IWC meeting in Japan and highlights the growinginternational concern at Japan´s vote buying activities. If Japan´sefforts result in securing a majority at the IWC meeting in May, thenthey will push for a full-scale resumption of commercial whaling andundo most conservation gains made since 1986 when the presentmoratorium on whaling came into force.

Notes: 1) In the run-up to the 2001 IWC meeting a senior member of the Japanese delegation, Mr. Masayuki Komatsu, confirmed that Japan was vote buying. In an interview with ABC TV, Australia, Mr. Komatsu admitted that Japan had to use the “tools of diplomatic communications and promises of overseas development aid to influence members of the International Whaling Commission". The Fisheries Agency of Japan´s vote buying programme is gathering momentum. At the 1993 meeting the Fisheries Agency had just five countries on their payroll. By 1999 there were seven. Japan brought one new country into the IWC in 2000 and two more in 2001. The Agency now enjoys the support of ten nations whose votes are paid for: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Guinea, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Solomon Island, Panama and Morocco. All of these except Morocco vote with Japan on every issue. The votes of these countries, combined with those of nations like China, Korea, Norway and Russia, which vote with Japan for their own reasons mean that the Fisheries Agency is within three or four votes of having a majority in the IWC. The Fisheries Agency of Japan is believed to have stepped up its vote buying drive, concentrating on West Africa. 2) For a copy refer to Greenpeace whales site http://whales.greenpeace .org 3) The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement is a comprehensive aid and trade agreement concluded between 77 ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries and theEuropean Union (the Community and the 15 Member States of the EU). It was signed in June 2000 in Cotonou (Benin) and is therefore commonly called ‘the Cotonou Agreement´. 4) St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda.