The Japanese have an insatiable appetite for whale meat, to the extent that they have bribed officials in 6 small nations with cash (and prostitutes!) in order to gain their votes for their whale hunts. 6 countries were willing to consider selling their votes to overturn the 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling passed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Will this slaughter still be going on in the future?

The UK’s Sunday Times filmed officials from pro-whaling governments admitting that they voted for the overturn because of promises of large amounts of Japanese aid. The governments of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, the Republic of Guinea and the Ivory Coast were all involved. The Times quotes the top fisheries official for Guinea as saying that Japan usually gave his minister a “minimum” of $1,000 a day in cash during IWC meetings.

They quote a senior fisheries official for the Marshall Islands as saying, “We support Japan because of what they give us,” and a Kiribati fisheries official told the Times that his country’s vote was based on the “benefit” it received in aid. 3 government organizations paid the bribes: The fisheries agency, the aid agency and the Overseas Fisheries Co-operation Foundation.

Meanwhile, the opening session of the annual meeting of the IWC was quickly adjourned so that delegates could begin a day and a half of private talks. Some observers condemned the secrecy–one comment was that recent UN talks on North Korea’s nuclear program were held in public, so why not whaling?

South Korea, whose fishing boats routinely catch small whales and where whale meat is available in restaurants, wants a compromise that would grant quotas to countries where “substantial indirect catches have been identified and used as traditional food for cultural and indigenous needs.”

But in BBC News, Richard Black quotes Andy Ottaway of Campaign Whale, as saying, “This deal wouldn’t just open the door to commercial whaling, it would kick it wide open, because South Korea has said it wants a slice of the action, and there are whaling sleeping giants out there waiting to re-start. It would legitimize commercial whaling, and it would legitimize it for 10 years, rewarding bad behaviour by countries that did not abide by the moratorium.”

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