Japan buying votes

Gareth Hughes blogs at Frog Blog:

A Sunday Times investigation has exposed Japan for bribing small nations with cash and prostitutes to gain their support for the mass slaughter of whales.

The British seem to excel at this type of investigative journalism (think Fergie) and this will really embarrass the Japanese whaling industry. While we’ve known for a long time that Japan uses aid money to buy votes at the IWC, this investigation gives amounts and a personal touch to the reality. For example, the Tanzanian IWC Commissioner Geoffrey Nanyaro, who talks about an all expenses paid trips to Japan and being set up with prostitutes there – “…it starts by saying: do you want massaging? Are you not lonely? You don’t want any comfort?” Like the experiences certain former ministers are having here, these practises behind closed doors look outrageous once they are out in the open.

Will it impact on the IWC negotiations currently happening in Morocco? I’m not sure – it’s embarrassing but I imagine the ‘bought’ nations will keep voting with Japan who also provocatively sent out its whaling fleet for the Northern Pacific hunt last week.

I’m not a fan of the lunatics at Sea Shepherd, but neither am I fan of the Japanese Government on the whaling issue. Their shameless vote buying at the IWC would get them jailed if it was done on a person to person basis, rather than govt to govt.

This is partly why a negotiated agreement with Japan would be a useful outcome – it would end the years of corruption that has almost destroyed the IWC’s credibility.

New Zealand has negotiated in good faith to try and reach a diplomatic compromise, and I still hope we can reach one that strengthens whale conservation, but this really is an outrageous practice by Japan that makes joining Australia in taking a case to the International Court of Justice a much more appealing option.

Like Gareth, I believe a diplomatic compromise that enhances whale conservation would be a good thing. I have to say it is not looking highly likely. If the diplomatic route fails, then the ICJ is worth considering. However that has its dangers also – if you lose, then the Japanese position will be greatly improved.

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