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NZ appalled at Japanese admission on whaling

18 July 2001 Media Statement

NZ appalled at Japanese admission on whaling tactics


Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that she was appalled by the reported admission of a senior Japanese fisheries official that Japan has been, in effect, bribing poorer nations to support Japan's campaign to overturn a global moratorium against whaling.

Helen Clark was responding to media reports that a Japanese fisheries agency head, Maseyuku Komatsu, had made the admission.

"New Zealand and other countries opposed to whaling have long suspected that Japan was using overseas development aid money to persuade poorer nations, without any direct interest in whaling, to support Japan's pro-whaling stance at the International Whaling Commission.

"Japan must surely be embarrassed by today's revelation from one its own senior officials.

"For some time now Japan has been under suspicion of effectively buying the support of poorer countries.

"At last year's annual IWC meeting in Adelaide, for example, six Caribbean countries voted with Japan on virtually every motion, and helped to overturn a joint New Zealand-Australian proposal for a South Pacific whale sanctuary.

"When put alongside Japan's longstanding but spurious assertion that it is taking large numbers of whales for purely 'scientific' and 'research' purposes, this confirmation of Japan's tactics shows the desperate lengths it will go to in order to maintain whaling.

"The same official likens minke whales to cockroaches, an assertion which New Zealand and a majority of other nations on the IWC will never accept.

New Zealand Conservation Minister Sandra Lee is travelling to London, leading New Zealand's delegation to the plenary session of the IWC.

"If Japan is indeed indulging in the sort of behaviour alluded to by Mr Komatsu, it can only underline the bankruptcy of its stance on whaling.

"New Zealand will again be pushing strongly for the creation of whale sanctuaries in the South Pacific and South Atlantic whale sanctuaries, to sit alongside the existing Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean sanctuaries.

"We are more determined than ever to protect the great mammals of the ocean in perpetuity, and today's admission bv Japan underlines the urgency of this task", Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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