Former Solomon Islands government officials have admitted that Japan paid for the
island's pro-whaling vote at the International Whaling Commission. The revelations came as a result of a probe into the loss of millions of dollars from the nation's treasury.

The officials stated that Japan met the Solomon Islands costs of attending International Whaling Commission meetings, and provided pay-offs to Solomon Island politicians and election contributions.

The government of the Solomon Islands officially admitted on July 17th that millions of dollars in cash paid by Japan and other countries for fishing rights made its way into the hands of island officials.

This revelation by the Solomon Islands exposes the lie behind the claim by Japan's Institute for Cetacean Research which earlier this year angrily rejected accusations of buying votes.

The Solomon Islands voted with Japan to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling at the commission meeting in Ulsan, South Korea, last month contrary to a pledge by the country's Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, to Australia's Environment Minister
Ian Campbell that they would not.

Japan's bid failed to reach a majority, let alone the necessary three quarters, but the Solomon Island vote angered Senator Campbell, who described it as "foul." Sir Allan is yet to decide whether to sack his Fisheries Minister Paul Maenu'u who represented the Solomon Islands at South Korea.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and other conservation groups have long complained about Japan's vote-buying at the commission. It now has the support of African, Caribbean, and Pacific developing nations which, on paper, gave it a majority at Ulsan. Only the failure of several of these nations to arrive for the meeting prevented Japan from winning a majority.

Japan has repeatedly denied claims it buys votes and has tried to have environmental groups that make such claims thrown out of the commission. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has repeatedly accused Japan of bribing nations in the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific.

The appearance of Nauru and Kiribati at Ulsan, alongside the Solomons and Tuvalu, heightened Australian concerns about Japan's influence in the Pacific. Diplomats from each of these nations have denied that their votes had been bought by Japan.

Each of these tiny nations, (for example Tuvalu with a population of only 8,000 people) has a vote equal to Australia or the United States. If Japan can bribe and recruit enough of these small countries, they can overturn the global moratorium on commercial whaling.

Former Solomons IWC commissioner, Albert Wata, detailed the bribes from Japan. "The Japanese pay the government subscriptions," he said. "They support the delegations to meetings, in terms of meeting air fares and expenses."

His claim was backed by a former Solomon Islands fisheries minister, Nelson Kile, who said Japan had been paying the fees for a decade.

A spokesman for the Institute of Cetacean Research said some people might be confused about who was giving them assistance to attend meetings. "It isn't actually the Japanese government. You would be hard pressed to find any link with the Japanese government."

This is, of course, true. Japan is quite good at hiding their corruption. It is only when the bribed nations reveal the corruption that allows for the truth to be revealed.

In addition to bribing small island nations, Japan is funding the World Council for Whalers based in Port Alberni in British Columbia, Canada, to encourage aboriginal whaling worldwide.

The Japanese have a global campaign to encourage the escalation of whale killing ranging from the promotion of aboriginal whaling to bribing poor nations for their votes.

Japanese whaling ships are preparing for a massive illegal whale slaughter in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary at the end of this year. Sea Shepherd intends to intercept this pirate whaling operation.

"Japan has become a lawless nation when it comes to exploiting the world's oceans and slaughtering whales," said Captain Paul Watson founder and president of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. In addition to disregarding international conservation law, Japan is now undermining the governments of small nations with bribes to officials thus encouraging corruption and scandal in these nations. We've seen the damage that Japan has done in St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Grenada, with the encouragement of corruption in exchange for votes to kill whales. Now with the admission by the Solomon Islands of what we have known all along, we call upon the International Whaling Commission to investigate the motivation behind each of these puppet nations in joining the IWC."

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