Charity is a good investment”; Japan and the International Whaling Commission

Whales: made of meatChar­i­ty is a good invest­ment” says Japan’s for­eign min­is­ter about the Japan­ese Over­seas Devel­op­ment Aid pro­gram IWC vote buy­ing pro­gram.

That’s the quote that kicks off this eye-open­ing report from the Third Mil­len­ni­um Foun­da­tion about just how much a vote at the Inter­na­tion­al Whal­ing Com­mis­sion can be bought for, and how many can be bought.
If you don’t know about the Inter­na­tion­al Whal­ing Com­mis­sion, it’s the out­fit that reg­u­lates the whalers. Or tries to. In 1985, they declared the mora­to­ri­um on com­mer­cial whal­ing, one of the most impor­tant mea­sures ever to pro­tect whales from extinc­tion. Since that time, Japan has been “recruit­ing” new mem­bers of the Inter­na­tion­al Whal­ing Com­mis­sion that are less inclined to pro­tect whales, chip­ping away in attempt to ulti­mate­ly over­turn the mora­to­ri­um. That “recruit­ment” often comes in the form of a con­di­tion­al offer of a fish-pro­cess­ing plant, pay­ment of the dues and costs of IWC par­tic­i­pa­tion, or oth­er lucra­tive aid offers. All the recruit­ed coun­try needs to do is show up at the IWC once a year and do as told. As one for­mer IWC com­mis­sion­er who admit­ted being bribed told ABC’s Four Cor­ners in a detailed expos ©: “I don’t think the inter­na­tion­al legal com­mu­ni­ty has yet come up with a term to describe this bla­tant pur­chas­ing of small coun­try gov­ern­ments by Japan.”

This year, the anti-con­ser­va­tion forces may have the major­i­ty they’ve been fight­ing for. (At last report, whether Soma­lia shows up or not may swing it). As whale cam­paign­er Remi point­ed out sev­er­al months ago in his excel­lent blog, a sim­ple major­i­ty may not be enough to over­turn the mora­to­ri­um (that takes a three-quar­ters major­i­ty), but it’s dan­ger­ous for many oth­er rea­sons. With a sim­ple major­i­ty the Japan­ese can:

* Change the rules of pro­ce­dure to estab­lish secret bal­lots for vot­ing;

* Pro­mote a res­o­lu­tion endors­ing Japan’s and Norway’s “sci­en­tific whal­ing” pro­grammes;

* Seek to abol­ish the South­ern Ocean Whale Sanc­tu­ary estab­lished in 1994;

* Dis­man­tle the IWC Con­ser­va­tion Com­mit­tee set up a few years ago to look at the impact on whale pop­u­la­tions of issues such as cli­mate change, pol­lu­tion, under­wa­ter noise, or by-catch from fish­ing oper­a­tions;

* Pro­mote a Revised Man­age­ment Pro­ce­dure for whal­ing that would open the way for a full blown resump­tion of com­mer­cial whal­ing, there­by end­ing the mora­to­ri­um on com­mer­cial whal­ing.

But why is Japan so des­per­ate­ly pour­ing resources into this? The ques­tion real­ly needs to be asked if this hasn’t devolved into an insane­ly weird Samu­rai pride thing, pit­ting the Fish­eries Min­istry again­st the world envi­ron­men­tal move­ment in a limb-sev­er­ing fight to the death.
And it espe­cial­ly needs to be asked when a busi­ness dai­ly in Japan, Nikkan Kugyo Shim­bun, boldy notes that there’s no com­mer­cial inter­est in resum­ing whal­ing, no mon­ey to be made, and rolls out quotes from a num­ber of fish­eries biz­ness­men break­ing ranks with the gov­ern­ment propi­gan­da about whal­ing:

Are there any young peo­ple who want to eat whale meat?” Whale meat con­sump­tion fig­ures of 230,000 tons at its peak has now reduced to 1500 tons in 90s. The price also has reduced to around 2000 yen per one kilo­gram at whole­sale price, about which the com­pa­nies clear­ly said, “We can­not do any­thing with that price.”

Over­seas sub­sidiaries are hav­ing big prob­lems. As our busi­ness has glob­al­ized, whal­ing has become a hid­den risk”, said Mr. Naoya Ita­gaki, the pres­i­dent of Nis­sui which takes the brunt of the crit­i­cisms again­st its involve­ment in whal­ing because of their share hold­ing posi­tion in Kyo­do-Sen­paku.

So in the absence of a mar­ket, it’s a good old gov­ern­ment bail-out. Accord­ing to the Third Mil­len­ni­um Report:

Secur­ing […] sup­port for Japan’s posi­tion at the IWC has become one of the top items on Japan’s for­eign pol­i­cy agen­da, sug­gest­ing the full back­ing of the For­eign Min­istry and the Prime Minister’s office for the recruit­ment cam­paign. But the dri­ving force for the entire enter­prise comes from the fish­eries bureau­crats and indus­try of Japan, backed by pow­er­ful politi­cians rep­re­sent­ing fish­eries-based con­stituen­cies. Vir­tu­al­ly all of the recruit­ed coun­tries, with the excep­tion of land-locked Mon­go­lia, have a rela­tion­ship with Japan in the fish­eries sec­tor, be it through bilat­er­al aid, tech­ni­cal coop­er­a­tion, fish­eries access or trade agree­ments, and/or com­mon mem­ber­ships in region­al and inter­na­tion­al fish­eries bod­ies where Japan is con­cen­trat­ing efforts to achieve sup­port for its whal­ing-relat­ed pol­i­cy objec­tives. Fish­eries aid, like all Japan­ese aid, remains a pow­er­ful for­eign pol­i­cy tool for the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment

There are some astound­ing num­bers in the­se pages. As the results are announced this week of who votes with and again­st Japan, have a look at the league table of grants con­tained in this report and see if you can see a cor­re­la­tion.

Fol­low the mon­ey — it ends in a har­poon.

7 thoughts on “Charity is a good investment”; Japan and the International Whaling Commission”

  1. Hi,

    This whal­ing cam­paign by Japan makes me feel sick. I have not doubt that the Japan­ese care noth­ing for the­se African and Paci­fic Island coun­tries oth­er than them being nec­es­sary to achieve their (Japan’s) whal­ing objec­tives. If Japan, Nor­way and Ice­land are suc­cess­ful at St Kitts and Nevis in achiv­ing a resump­tion in com­mer­cial whal­ing, I think the only option left is for there to be an inter­na­tion­al effort ask­ing peo­ple to boy­cott Japan­ese, Nor­we­gian and Ice­landic goods.

    Go Green­peace!!!

  2. Hi Bri­an and Ann:
    I’ve just sent off sev­er­al let­ters to gov­ern­ment of St. Kitts and Nevis con­demn­ing their
    actions re: Arc­tic Sun­rise, and con­tin­ued sup­port for Japan at IWC.
    One email to gov­ern­ment office was blocked — I hope that is a sign that oth­ers
    are com­mu­ni­cat­ing their out­rage as well.
    How much will any of this help — who knows, but is bet­ter that doing noth­ing.
    Per­haps the media atten­tion will have a neg­a­tive impact for St. Kitts and Japan.
    What I fear the most is what you have stat­ed Bri­an — elim­i­nate trans­paren­cy and
    account­abil­i­ty — it is an issue of greed and mon­ey.
    It isn’t too dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out who votes with Japan based on past meet­ings — so
    now we have to go after those coun­tries — sad thing is many of those coun­tries are in
    Africa and are already strug­gling with issues.

  3. The one that actu­al­ly scares me the most is the intro­duc­tion of secret bal­lots. All we as con­ser­va­tion­ists have as a weapon is the out­rage of peo­ple who want to save the whales. If secret bal­lot­ing is brought in, Japan can bribe with impu­dence and coun­tries that play along don’t have to fear any ret­ri­bu­tion what­so­ev­er. That could change the stakes rad­i­cal­ly. Elim­i­nate the trans­paren­cy and the account­abil­i­ty, and mon­ey will pre­vail. Whales will die.

  4. Hi again,
    I read this from the report: A sim­ple major­i­ty could lead to :

    Japan has indi­cat­ed that it would seek to delete items on new whale sanc­tu­ar­ies.

    (With a sim­ple major­i­ty Japan would not be able actu­al­ly to over­turn bind­ing deci­sions such as the 1994 South­ern Oceans Whale Sanc­tu­ary.)

    Japan, Nor­way and Ice­land could change by res­o­lu­tion , the con­ser­v­a­tive objec­tions and spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the Catch Lim­it Algo­rith and the RMP to ones favour­ing devel­op­ment of their whal­ing indus­tries to prof­itable lev­els with very much high­er future catch lim­its

  5. Thanks Bri­an for this infor­ma­tion, but there are some ques­tions. Is it pos­si­ble for the whal­ing nations to abol­ish the South­ern Oceans Sanc­tu­ary with a sim­ply major­i­ty? And can a sim­ple major­i­ty endorse Nor­we­gian sci­en­tific pro­gram­me? Are the Nor­we­gians into sci­en­tific whal­ing? Haven’t we for­got­ten to men­tion Ice­land? Since Eng­lish is only my third lan­guage I might have mis­un­der­stood some points.

  6. Wow, thanks, Brain. I was just hav­ing an argu­ment with some­one about the Japan­ese vote buy­ing and they were claim­ing it was all a bunch of made up stuff by the gree­nies. The Third Mil­len­ni­um report is a nice ham­mer to hit them over the head with!!!!!!! SAVE THE WHALES!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.