Japan is so desperate to preserve its whaling industry that the country has resorted to bribing small nations with cash and prostitutes, according to a recent investigation from The Sunday Times of London. Undercover reporters from the newspaper disguised themselves as representatives of a Swiss billionaire seeking anti-whaling votes at the next International Whaling Commission's meeting, set to take place later this month in Morocco. The reporters found six countries (St Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Republic of Guinea, and Ivory Coast) willing to part with their votes—as long as the undercover reporters could give them more than what Japan was already offering.
The investigation also caught delegates revealing on camera that Japan offers call girls to visiting fisheries ministers and civil servants. A fisheries representative from Guinea admitted that Japan offered officials at least $1,000 in spending money per day during IWC event, and a fisheries official from the Marshall Islands told undercover reporters, "We support Japan because of what they give us."
None of this comes as a surprise to Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. "I've posted about this on our Web site for years. It's no secret," he tells FastCompany.com. "Japan has been bullying and bribing to get their way."
Watson believes that the IWC, which is supposed to oversee whale conservation, is irrelevant because it has been so tainted by scandal. While Sea Shepherd is officially banned from IWC meetings, Watson recounts one incident in 1997 when the organization was allowed to attend an IWC reception. "I walked in and the entire Japanese, Icelandic, and Norwegian delegations walked out. Other countries did too. They followed like puppy dogs after the Japanese. It was the greatest compliment I ever received."
So if the IWC can't change Japan's whaling culture, what can? Unsurprisingly, Watson believes that Sea Shepherd can help sink the whaling industry. Many environmental groups disagree—Greenpeace, for example, believes Sea Shepherd's actions (sinking whaling boats and destroying equipment) are too violent. But Japan will do almost anything to keep its valuable whaling industry alive. Direct intervention may be the most effective solution—and it makes for good television, too.