Earth Island Institute

ECO: The environmental voice at the IWC

ECO is published by Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission on behalf of environmental and animal welfare organizations around the globe.

For further information, please contact: Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director, Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project.

Previous volumes of ECO are available here.


Volume LXIV · Panama City, Panama · No. 1 · Monday July 2, 2012
Acrobat .pdf of issue

Japan Rewards Compliant Nations

It has been an open secret at the IWC that Japan rewards nations that vote for whaling with funding, including development aid.

Now, a new scientific study published in the journal Foreign Policy Analysis has confirmed the obvious: Japan puts more funds into nations that support its position at the IWC.

Drs. Jonathan Strand and John Tuman of the University of Nevada conducted an extensive review of voting behavior in the IWC, correlating support for Japan’s position on whaling with increased foreign aid, termed official development assistance (ODA).

“Taken together, these results suggest that microstate members in the IWC received more real Japanese aid, on average, in comparison with non-microstate IWC members and other recipients that are not members of the IWC. This finding lends support to the proposition that Japanese ODA concentrates in IWC microstates because aid officials expect that microstates are economically vulnerable and are therefore open to aid inducements to vote against the moratorium.”

The analysis focuses on microstates that are presumably more subject to influence from ODA than larger nations that are involved in the IWC but still receive some aid from Japan. Accordingly, Strand and Tuman separated the voting records and ODA receipts of microstates from larger nation members of the IWC.

Furthermore, the analysis noted that other Japanese interests, such as their support for oil or trade, do not appear to correlate with Japanese ODA. Only the whaling issue stands out for Japanese use of ODA to achieve support at the IWC.

The review further shows that there is no evidence that nations in favor of the whaling moratorium cut back or “retaliate” on ODA for microstates that vote in Japan’s bloc, including the US, New Zealand, Australia, or the UK. The study notes that there is also little evidence to indicate Norway and Iceland, pro-whaling nations like Japan, employ ODA to enhance their position at the IWC.

Quoting the Associated Press, the report states that: “… the head of the Japanese IWC delegation stated ‘… lacking military might, his country had to use the tools of diplomacy and promises of development aid to ‘get appreciation of Japan’s position’ on whaling.’”

With this extensive and scientific confirmation of the issue in Foreign Policy Analysis, it is time for the IWC to consider steps to stop the bribery of nations for votes in IWC proceedings.