Japan Accused of Bribing Nations to be Pro-Whaling

Photo: mikebaird / CC

On the heels of an International Whaling Commission meeting slated for later this month to discuss the future prospects of commercial hunts, conscience and moral imperatives may not be the only thing influencing the countries present there. An undercover investigation, conducted by reporters from The Sunday Times, found whaling-friendly Japan has sought to bribe small nations into taking a likeminded stance--which would result in the killing of thousands of more whales if the commercial whaling ban is lifted. What, reportedly, was used to entice these nations to side with Japan? "Cash and prostitutes," what else?
According to the investigative report from The Times, Japanese officials deny making inappropriate compensation to foreign governments in exchange for their pro-commercial whaling stance at the upcoming International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Morocco. Japan would, however, clearly benefit from such support as the nation hopes to overturn a 24-year moratorium on the controversial practice.

The reporters, while "posing as representatives of a billionaire conservationist," recorded representatives of several small nations with a pro-whaling stance admitting to accepting bribes from Japan. They would be willing to change their stance, it is suggested, if similar offers could be put forth to sustain the commercial whaling ban.

Cash and prostitutes were among the bribes offered by the Japanese, claims officials from such small nations, as recorded by The Times:

-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.

The nations of St Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Republic of Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Tanzania were all said to have received similar bribes channeled through Japanese organizations, The Times reported. A representative from Marshall Islands freely admitted to how he arrived at his nation's pro-whaling stance: "We support Japan because of what they give us."

Tanzanian and Guinean fishery officials further clarified what those gifts might entail with claims that they were offered "a 'minimum' of $1,000 a day spending money in cash," and "good girls" at their disposal.

The IWC meetings come at a time when Japanese whaling practices have been subject to the ire of conservationist groups. While commercial whaling has been suspended for nearly a quarter century, the nation has continued the practice under the pretext of scientific research, an allowance considered by some to be a loophole in the ban.

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Tags: Conservation | Japan | Oceans | Whales