New Zealand opposes Japan whaling

New Zealand has joined forces with Britain and Australia in a diplomatic bid to prevent Japan taking control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday.

Possible Japanese control of a majority of votes on the body was “of real concern,” although it was important to note that Japan’s majority was only on paper, she said. Japan had a paper majority last year but still lost crucial motions when support nations either did not attend or were absent during key votes.

“We’ve been concerned for a number of years because Japan has been steadily recruiting small developing countries to its cause,” Clark told radio network NewstalkZB.

New Zealand was talking to many small nations that have joined the commission and voted with Japan after receiving aid packages from the pro-whaling nation, she said.

Conservation Minister Chris Carter said it was also part of a concerted diplomatic effort with Australia and the Britain to encourage anti-whaling nations to attend the IWC’s next meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis next month.

New Zealand’s IWC commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer said while the prospects of anti-whaling states losing a 50 percent majority had been high last year, “we think they’re much higher this year.”

Numbers joining the IWC in recent years have been “about two to one” in favor of pro-whaling states, he told National Radio.

A simple majority would not allow Japan to reintroduce commercial whaling — which requires a 75 percent majority — but would allow it to choose the commission’s chairman, abolish its conservation committee and install secret ballots so nations supporting it could avoid scrutiny.

It would also allow it to more easily expand its scientific whaling program, which is “commercial whaling … carried out by Japan in the southern oceans [each] year,” Palmer said.

“If a further, approved system of international commercial whaling occurs that would be a tragedy,” he said.

Japan has consistently denied buying votes at the IWC or that its annual research program is commercial whaling in another guise.

Source: Taipei Times