`Japan bribed nations with cash, girls on whaling`

Japan has denied buying votes of members of International Whaling Commission.

Updated: Jun 13, 2010, 12:15 PM IST

London: As Japan seeks to break the 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling, a British newspaper claims that the East Asian nation has bribed smaller countries with cash and prostitutes in a bid to garner their support for the mass slaughter of the marine animals.

An undercover investigation by `The Sunday Times` allegedly found that officials from six countries were willing to consider selling their votes on the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which will decide the fate of thousands of whales when it meets again this month in Morocco.

Japan has, however, denied buying the votes of members of the International Whaling Commission.

But, the newspaper claims to have filmed officials from pro-whaling governments admitting that they voted with the whalers because of the large amounts of aid from Japan; and received cash payments in envelopes at IWC meetings from Japanese officials who pay their travel and hotel bills.

While one said he was not sure if his country had any whales in its territorial waters and others are landlocked, another official disclosed that call girls were offered when fisheries ministers and civil servants visited Japan for meetings, the newspaper report said.

The reporters, posing as representatives of a billionaire conservationist, approached officials from pro-whaling countries and offered them an aid package for votes.

The governments of St Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Republic of Guinea and Ivory Coast all entered negotiations to sell their votes in return for aid, the newspaper claimed.

The top fisheries official for Guinea said Japan usually gave his minister a "minimum" of USD 1,000 a day spending money in cash during IWC.

He said three Japanese organisations were used to channel the payments to his country -- the fisheries agency, the aid agency and the Overseas Fisheries Co-operation Foundation.

Added a senior fisheries official for the Marshall Islands said: "We support Japan because of what they give us." A Kiribati fisheries official also said his country`s vote was determined by the "benefit" it received in aid. He, too, said Japan gave delegates expenses and spending money, the newspaper claimed.

The IWC commissioner for Tanzania said "good girls" were made available at the hotels for ministers and senior fisheries civil servants during all-expenses paid trips to Japan.