Japanese government agencies trying to loosen a 24-year-old moratorium on commercial whaling used cash and the offer of prostitutes to convince small countries to vote in favor of lifting the ban, a news report claims.
The UK’s Sunday Times reports it has film of officials from various governments admitting that Japan offered financial aid in exchange for a pro-whaling vote on the International Whaling Commission.
The IWC meets this month in Morocco to decide the fate of the moratorium on whaling, which Japan has largely skirted by classifying its annual whale hunt as “scientific research.”
The Times reports officials admitted:
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 Times says it ran a sting operation on officials involved in whaling negotiations, and officials from “St. Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Republic of Guinea and Ivory Coast all entered negotiations to sell their votes in return for aid.”
Japan launched a summer whaling mission last week, with the target of killing 260 of the giant sea mammals in the Northwest Pacific waters despite legal action by Australia.
Japan hunts whales using a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling that allows “lethal research” on the giant mammals, and it makes no secret of the fact that the meat is then sold as food.
Opposition to Japan’s research whaling has become increasingly violent in recent years, including harassment and high-sea clashes with militant environmentalists during annual expeditions in the Antarctic waters.
Australia launched legal action with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an effort to stop Japan killing hundreds of whales a year in the name of science.
Japan is also entangled with a high-profile trial against a New Zealand anti-whaling activist, who boarded a Japanese harpoon ship in Antarctic waters.
In February, Peter Bethune, 45, scaled a Japanese ship from a jetski with the intention of making a citizen’s arrest of its captain but was instead detained and taken back to Japan.
He now faces two years in jail over five counts, including assault for allegedly injuring a whaler with a rancid butter projectile and has been dropped by the Sea Shepherd group for violating its policy against carrying weapons by having a bow and arrows while aboard a Sea Shepherd vessel.
In another trial, two Greenpeace activists potentially face 18-month jail terms for theft and trespassing while investigating alleged embezzlement in Japan’s whaling industry.
– With AFP