- 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"
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
"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
- 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
- Ryan Butters
Resident Island Historian,
Midway Atoll - Central Pacific