Japan’s sordid vote-buying on whaling exposed

by Guest Blogger

June 14, 2010

This post comes from Willie at Greenpeace UK.

So, what’s your price to sell out the whales?

Some envelopes stuffed with cash? A nice big check for development aid? All-expenses paid trips to exotic locations? Or some dubious entertainment, including ‘good girls’?

Welcome, dear friends, to the world of international diplomacy, Japanese government style. Yesterday, in a shocking expose, the Sunday Times showed the tawdry reality of Japan’s vote-buying tactics to undermine the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Using undercover reporters, they managed to elicit scandalous accounts of just what the government of Japan offers to get the support of developing nations in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Africa.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups have been banging on about this for years, but never have the salacious details been quite so vividly exposed. It’s further proof, if any were needed, that there is no groundswell of support for whaling within the IWC or the international community. Indeed, many of the national representatives attending these talks don’t represent their governments, their people, or any sort of scientific advice when it comes to deciding how to vote. Japan’s support instead is held together with wads of cash, tied overseas aid, and some dubious entertainment of key officials.

Is this what we expect from the international body responsible for looking after the world’s whale populations?

Given the depths the government of Japan will apparently plumb to secure votes at the IWC, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that similar things are probably happening in other fora. To help defeat a trade ban on Atlantic bluefin for example.

It makes a mockery of any countenance of a compromise deal that would sanction and legitimise Japan’s whaling program, to know that the perceived international support has such sordid origins.

And it further brings into question just what the Japanese taxpayers must be thinking. Not only do they unwittingly pay to support the whaling operations, and public campaigns to encourage the consumption of whale meat, but their money is also being used to bribe developing nations to support this dying industry. An industry so few people in Japan even care about.

Perhaps most sickening is that Japanese taxpayers are also paying for the politically-motivated trial of anti-whaling activists, including the Greenpeace activists known as the Tokyo Two. Their ‘crime’ was to uncover corruption at the heart of the whaling industry, and they now face the very real prospect of one-and-a-half years in prison.

Given the amount of corruption the Sunday Times has uncovered at the heart of the Japanese government’s international diplomatic efforts, it’s clear it’s not our activists who should be in the dock.

Take action and tell President Obama to say NO to commercial whaling. 

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