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Japan accused of bribery over whaling rights

It's no secret that Japan seeks an end to the longstanding moratorium on commercial whaling passed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986. Nor is Japan a stranger to allegations that it's bribed other IWC members to vote for its position. But now, the London Times is carrying what it says is proof that at least six states agreed to vote for Japan's position in exchange for aid:

Japan denies buying the votes of IWC members. However, The Sunday Times filmed officials from pro-whaling governments admitting [...] They voted with the whalers because of the large amounts of aid from Japan. One said he was not sure if his country had any whales in its territorial waters. Others are landlocked.

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 top fisheries official for Guinea said Japan usually gave his minister a “minimum” of $1,000 a day spending money in cash during IWC and other fisheries meetings.

If the Times' report is true, Japan's efforts to overturn the whaling ban may have suffered a major setback. But anti-whaling activists shouldn't rejoice just yet. Debate surrounding the issue has gotten progressively more intense in the last few months as the IWC prepares to consider just what Japan is looking for -- a (temporary) suspension of the moratorium, to be voted on later this month in Morocco. The meeting also follows a recent breakdown in relations between Japan and Australia, whose government sued Tokyo on June 1 for repeatedly violating the IWC whaling ban.

Junko Kimura/Getty Images

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