The Japanese government is reportedly plotting to boost efforts to overturn the international ban on commercial whaling by seeking to recruit more allies to vote against it at the next meeting of International Whaling Commission (IWC), the body that regulates whale hunting.
According to Japanese government officials , Japan will ‘dispatch experts in the fisheries sector to countries that can be expected to join the IWC and anti-whaling nations that are likely to turn to the Japanese side, in order to advocate for support and promote “making friends”.’
In order to achieve its goals at the IWC, Japan has for for decades been actively recruiting developing countries with no genuine interest in whaling to join the IWC. Japan uses its “Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) Programme as an incentive to join the IWC and to further Japanese whaling interests.
Undercover investigations by the Sunday Times (UK) in 2010 revealed a long-term strategy by Japan to influence voting by small countries at the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Reporters from the Sunday Times filmed official from Japan’s allied countries, who admitted that they voted in support of whaling due to the large amounts of aid they receive from Japan. The investigation also exposed even shadier dealings than the use of development aid; the reporters claim that delegates received cash payments from Japanese officials, who also pay their travel costs, as well as other, more unseemly ‘perks’. The governments mentioned in The Sunday Times investigation were St. Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Republic of Guinea and the Ivory Coast, as well as Tanzania.
For important decisions (or schedule amendments) such as the resumption of commercial whaling, the IWC requires a three-quarter majority. However, and as the Japanese Fisheries Agency states, the 88 IWC members are currently divided into 39 countries pro-whaling and 49 anti-whaling member states. For this reason, the Japanese Fisheries Agency has now decided to send experts as ‘advisors’ to government agencies of any countries that are considering joining the IWC. Japan also wants to strengthen cooperation with countries that already support whaling.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also planning to send its experts to countries that ‘show certain understanding for the Japanese side amongst the anti-whaling countries’. The plans also include holding seminars for local and media stakeholders.