Also in this issue: Saving Dolphin Safe · History Lesson · Camel Copter Kill
Eco 2005, 22 June, Volume LVII, No. 3. Reports from the International Whaling Commission annual meeting in Ulsan, Republic of Korea

The Big Stall

The IWC meeting was interrupted yesterday with an hours-long meeting of the heads of delegations (e.g. media, observers, and scientists all excluded).

The tactic of holding such meetings behind closed doors has become increasingly used as a tool by the pro-whaling nations to seek special concessions better left unspoken in the light of day.

Rumors of the clandestine debate focus on efforts by Japan and its allied states to stall IWC decisions pending the arrival and/or certification of three new pro-whaling nations (Gambia, Togo and Nauru) at the IWC to give Japan a narrow majority for the meeting's votes.

Observers strongly suspect Japan's vote-buying machine is working overtime to churn out millions of dollars in fisheries aid in return for a pro-whaling stance by the receiving nations.

Japan's RMS Goes Down

Japan's attempt to end-run the long, drawn out RMS process hit a brick wall as 29 countries voted against it (along with five countries which abstained). Only 23 pro-whaling nations supported the document, but even then the argument from Japan and others was a weak "any management plan, no matter how incomplete, is better than no management plan." As the proposal needed a three-quarter vote to amend the schedule, the defeat was particularly significant.

Japan repeated the familiar assertion that they were running out of patience with the RMS process, with the IWC process, and that Parliamentarians back home were asking Japan to "consider its options" for violating the moratorium and continuing commercial whaling. Of course, Japan is already involved in commercial whaling, only they call it "scientific research whaling."

Commissioner Rollie Schmitten of the US carefully outlined the weaknesses of the Japanese proposal. He noted the proposal would automatically eliminate all whale sanctuaries, despite the fact that the sanctuaries have nothing to do with the Revised Management Scheme. He noted the proposal would automatically end the current moratorium on commercial whaling. The proposal further does nothing to address the problem of proliferating scientific permits. Commissioner Schmitten added that the outline provided by Japan for observers does not, in itself, make a Code of Conduct for whaling nations.

Many nations supported the US intervention. The strongest presentation came from New Zealand's Hon. Chris Carter, who argued that the Japan proposal would have the IWC "return to the dirty deals of the past." Commissioner Carter forcefully stated New Zealand's opposition to any new commercial whaling schemes. He noted that the Japanese proposal did not include any means of enforcement. Nor does the draft include, he added, any consideration for animal welfare.

Supporting Japan's weak RMS: Antigua & Barbuda, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominica, Gabon, Guinea, Iceland, Japan, Mauritania, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Russian Federation, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Suriname, and Tuvalu.

Voting against: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, Portugal, San Marino, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and US.

Abstentions: China, Denmark, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, and Morocco.

US Court Blocks Bush's Dolphin Safe Label

In August 2004, US Judge Thelton Henderson, in the case Earth Island Institute v. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans, threw out the US Commerce Department's weakening of the "Dolphin-safe" label on tuna cans, as the Bush Administration illegally ignored its own scientific evidence. Henderson ordered the issuance of a new rule prohibiting the use of a "Dolphin-safe" label on any tuna products caught by netting dolphins.

David Phillips, Director of Earth Island Institute, stated: "Judge Henderson's ruling exposes the Bush Administration's deceit in ignoring its own scientists and caving in to Mexican demands to allow dolphin-deadly tuna back into the US with a phony label. Secret court documents proved that the government knew all along that netting dolphins was jeopardizing their very survival. Yet the Bush Administration still went ahead and ruled that tuna trade with Mexico was more important than dolphin lives".

Judge Henderson rebuked the Bush Administration, stating that: "(T)he record convincingly demonstrates that the Secretary (of Commerce) nonetheless proceeded to sacrifice the integrity of the decision-making process by disregarding the best available scientific evidence in favor of political and diplomatic considerations."

On December 31, 2002, President Bush's Commerce Secretary Evans issued a "no significant adverse impacts" finding allowing Mexico, Colombia, and other tuna fishing nations to label their tuna as "Dolphin Safe" and sell it in the US, even if it was caught by the chasing, netting, and killing of thousands of dolphins annually. More than seven million dolphins have been killed in tuna nets since the late 1950s.

The US agencies' own biologists knew dolphin populations were not recovering, as a result of the tuna fishery. Further, documents revealed the intense pressure from the US State Department, Mexico and other tuna fishing nations to ignore the scientific conclusions.

Phillips added: "More than 300 documents were withheld from the court record. The Bush Administration went to amazing lengths to prevent Earth Island and the court from obtaining these damaging revelations."

US standards for "Dolphin Safe" tuna will remain as no chasing or encircling dolphins with nets in order to catch tuna. An appeal by the US government is still pending.

Japan's Whaling Fleets Financed War on China

It is the darkest secret of Japan's whaling industry. In the 1930s, when Japan invaded Manchuria and later the rest of China, Japan's pelagic whaling industry was owned by the Japanese Imperial Army. Six huge whaling fleets ruthlessly plundered the world's whales for the sole purpose of raising funds to finance the conquest of China.

Japan's occupation force in Manchuria, the Kwantung Army, exploited the vast natural resources of the northern China region through the Manchurian Heavy Industries Corporation, which was set up by the army in 1931 after the invasion of Manchuria.

"All of the pelagic fleets sent to the Antarctic were owned and operated by Nippon Suisan Kabushiki Kaisha Company, the main shareholder of which was the Manchurian Heavy Industries Corporation," according to Prof. George Small in his history of the modern whaling industry, The Blue Whale. "This corporation was the principal economic and industrial arm of the Japanese army in Manchuria. The objective of the Nippon Suisan Company, as stated in the 1941 Mainichi Yearbook, was the acquisition of foreign currency and food supplies for the Japanese armed forces."

Tens of thousands of blue, fin, sei, humpback, and right whales were slaughtered by the Japanese fleets in Antarctic waters and the Pacific for their edible oil, which was sold in Europe (largely to Unilever, which had developed the process of creating margarine through hydrogenation of whale oil) for hard currency. The funds were used to buy British and German arms, machine tools and other war materiel for the expansion of the Japanese empire.

Nippon Suisan purchased Japan's first factory ship from Norway in 1934 at a time when modern fleets from a dozen nations were invading the whale-rich waters of the Southern Ocean. By 1940, Japan's six fleets dominated the global whaling industry. Hundreds of millions of dollars in profits poured into its coffers-and into the Japanese war machine. In 1937, when Japan began to ally itself with Nazi Germany, most of Japan's whale oil production was being sold to the German government, according to The History of Modern Whaling, produced by the Norwegian Whaling Association.

After just three years in business, Japan accounted for more than 11 percent of pelagic whaling. "Foreign whalers were seized with panic at Japan's rapid progress: that the whale oil should have ended up in Germany was part and parcel of the extensive trade connections between the two countries, ushering in the military-political alliance of the Tokyo-Berlin Axis," commented the Norwegian history.

In 1940, after war had broken out in Europe and shipping to Germany was too dangerous, thousands of tons of whale oil were stockpiled in Manchuria; efforts were made to ship some of it by rail to Germany through the Soviet Union. During the 1940-41 Antarctic whaling season, Japan's six fleets deployed 51 catcher boats. They produced 622,413 barrels of whale oil. "In that season, Japan actually accounted for 59 percent of the pelagic Antarctic production," states the Norwegian book.

Taking advantage of an expired ban on hunting humpback whales, the Japanese Antarctic fleets in 1941 harpooned 2,394 of the endangered species-the same stock that Japan is now targeting in its proposed "research" whaling scheme.

Under orders from the Kwantung Army, Nippon Suisan openly defied attempts to regulate the whaling industry in the 1930s. "During those years several international agreements, designed to prevent overexploitation of stocks of whales, were reached under the aegis of the League of Nations," Prof. Small wrote. "The agreements included standard prohibitions such as the killing of the nearly extinct Right whales, suckling calves of all species, and females accompanied by a calf. Japan refused to sign or abide by any of the agreements even when for her benefit the North Pacific, her oldest whaling area, was specifically excluded. The reason for the refusal to adopt even rudimentary conservation practices was the urgent demand placed on the Japanese economy by the country's war in Manchuria and China."

Japan's Kwantung Army plundered not just the whales. Gold, artworks and other valuables were looted from Manchuria, and resources such as iron, coal and timber were stripped for shipment to Japan. The most ardent Japanese imperialists seized control of Manchuria's riches to finance the conquest of all Asia.

"Real power in Manchuria was in the hands of the Kwantung Army and its underworld allies, overseen by General Tojo Hideki, head of the secret police," reported Sterling Seagrave in his remarkable history of Japan's royal family, The Yamato Dynasty. "Its economy was managed top to bottom by the newly formed Nissan zaibatsu. The Kwantung Army became financially independent of Tokyo, able to act without budgetary restraint, peer review or government interference. Tojo became its chief of staff, on his way to becoming prime minister of Japan."

"Such extraordinary success stimulated the Kwantung Army's appetite to seize more territory. China was certainly more tempting than Siberia," Seagrave explained. On 7 July 1937, the Kwantung Army set off a phony incident at the Marco Polo Bridge outside Peking. "An unidentified man shot at Japanese soldiers, allowing them to open fire on the Chinese defenders. The incident quickly escalated to full invasion and a China War that bogged down nearly a million Japanese troops for eight years."

The Japanese Imperial Army pillaged and plundered as it moved through China, with the December 1937 Rape of Nanking, the capital of the Chinese Nationalist government, reflecting the army's Three Alls policy: "Burn All, Kill All, Seize All." More than 250,000 noncombatants were brutally murdered in Nanking, and much of the undefended city was torched.

General Tojo, the power behind the Imperial Army, ordered the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 when he was prime minister of Japan. He was hanged as a war criminal in 1948.

Last year, the New York Times cited Japan's "atrocity amnesia" in a story headlined "Japan Rewrites Its Manchuria Story." "Today, historians and novelists in Japan who want to rebuild pride in their history are reviving fantasies that the conquest was a just and noble mission to modernize Manchuria. For China, this retelling of history by its centuries-old rival has stirred a powerful resurgence of memories of atrocities and subjugation."

This week, Japan is once again attempting to cover up its record of rapacious whaling. We would remind the delegations at the IWC of an historian's warning: "Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it."

International Camel Commission?!

During yesterday's discussion of a proposal by the United Kingdom to host a workshop on humane killing methods, Norway's delegation took off on Australia over camel kills. Norway noted that Australia plans to kill some 60,000 camels from helicopters. Norway wanted Australia to bring the data from that kill to the workshop for consideration. Jose Trudo Palazzo of Brazil interrupted, noting that this was not the International Camel Commission. But St. Kitts & Nevis intervened down the line, repeating the attack on Australia's camel kill, asking animal rights organizations to take note and protest.

It is certainly good to see that the Commission, which has repeatedly rejected consideration of small cetaceans as beyond its competence, is now posed to protect camels.
To that, ECO asks, "Could whales be next?"