Japanese Diplomat Brands Whales
'Cockroaches Of The Sea'
By Andrew Darby in Hobart

Japan's chief fisheries diplomat described minke whales yesterday as the "cockroaches of the sea" and admitted his country used foreign aid to bribe some countries to vote against an international ban on commercial whaling.

The country's grip on the International Whaling Commission has become evident before the organisation's annual meeting in London next week.

The key voting bloc of Caribbean nations is reported to have held for Japan, despite attempts by Australia to break it up and the open recognition that Tokyo bought the votes with overseas aid.

Japan's colourful leading fisheries diplomat, Mr Masayuki Komatsu, confirmed the aid was used as a lever to commission votes.

And dismissing minke whales as cockroaches, he said: "There are too many [and they are] swimming so quick."
Japan is marshalling pro-whaling votes to a point where they could approach a simple majority on some issues at the commission this year. Up to four more nations may vote on Japan's side. Neutralising the six eastern Caribbean members of the commission is seen as vital to the proposal by Australia for a South Pacific whale sanctuary. Australian diplomats who visited the region recently hoped to persuade one or more countries to abstain, in an attempt to get the necessary three-quarters majority of votes in favour of the sanctuary.

But in Antigua this week, the whaling commissioner Mr Daven Joseph said a recent "round robin" conversation among the six States (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines) agreed on "the principles of sustainable use" of whales.

Mr Joseph declined to specify whether they would vote against a sanctuary, but an Antiguan official told the Cana news agency they would maintain their pro-whaling voting pattern.

Antigua's Prime Minister, Mr Lester Bird, said his country's stance was partly due to aid it received, and partly because the minke whale was not an endangered species.

The Japanese administration admitted in 1999 it used foreign aid as a lever in whaling politics. The then fisheries minister, Mr Hiraoki Kameya, said: "We would like to utilise overseas development aid as a practical means to promote nations to join the IWC, expanding aid towards non-member countries which support Japan's claim."

In an interview with the ABC yesterday, this position was reiterated by Mr Komatsu, who heads the international division of the Japanese Fisheries Agency.

"Japan does not have a military power," Mr Komatsu said. "You may dispatch your military power to East Timor. That is not the case of Japan. Japanese means is diplomatic communication and ODAs (Overseas Development Aid). So in order to get appreciation of Japan's position...that is natural that we must do, result on those two major truths. So I think there is nothing wrong."
From Ryan Butters
Dear Jeff,
Mr Komatsu's final statement, relating to Japan's need to utilize ODA's in lieu of military power is especially disconcerting. His statement infers that he places military coersion in a place of primacy over diplomatic and foreign aid overtures. This sort of anachronastic militarism has no positive place on the present (and sufficiently destabilized) geo-political scene. Mr. Komatsu's reference to peacekeepers in East Timor is especially strange, as that incident has absolutely nothing in political common with Japan's want to slaughter ever more Pacific whales. All in all, we have been given a glimpse into the frighteningly odd psyche of a strange, strange little man.
Ryan Butters
Resident Island Historian,
Midway Atoll - Central Pacific



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