Report: Japan Offered Prostitutes to Sway Whaling Votes
Japan denies the accusations, but The Sunday Times reported that two of its journalists filmed government officials from six countries admitting they were bribed by Japan to vote with the pro-whalers.
News of the sting comes as Japan seeks to overturn a 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission next week in Agadir, Morocco.
"This is what Japan does, they try to advance their agenda of killing whales and killing dolphins by whatever means necessary," C.T. Ryder, president of the Maui-based Earth Foundation and one of the promoters of the Oscar-winning dolphin-slaughter documentary, "The Cove," told AOL News today.
"The problem is, our president is not doing anything. The whales, the dolphins -- they are part of what's happening with the gulf oil spill. President Obama needs to really take a stand."
Two reporters from the Sunday Times pretended to be the lobbyists of a fictional Swiss billionaire and set out to buy votes at the IWC meeting.
Officials from six countries told the undercover reporters they would consider their offer but warned them that they had to offer a better deal than what they were already getting from the Japanese.
The six countries named in the Times investigation are St. Kitts and Nevis, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Grenada, Ivory Coast and Guinea.
About 35,000 whales have been killed by Japan, Norway and Iceland since the moratorium was introduced. In Japan's case, the killings have been justified as "scientific research," although whale meat is eaten in dishes such as sashimi.
If all the nations present at next week's IWC meeting vote in favor of overturning the whaling moratorium, whaling nations will be able to kill 1,800 whales a year.
So-called "scientific whaling" will end, but anti-whalers fear the new quotas may open the way for a return to the widespread whaling that almost destroyed some species in the 1980s.
Those against whaling say overturning the moratorium would be the culmination of a long campaign by Japan to win support for whaling by bribing the poorest nations to vote along with them.
Japan is believed to have the backing of at least 38 of the IWC's 88 members, including three landlocked countries. It needs 66 votes, or 75 percent of the vote.
The Sunday Times said that Japanese officials bribed the countries with cash payments distributed at IWC meetings by Japanese officials who also paid their travel and hotel bills.
One official told the Times that call girls were offered when fisheries ministers and civil servants visited Japan for meetings.
The top fisheries official for Guinea said Japan slipped his minister a "minimum" of $1,000 a day spending money in cash during IWC and other fisheries meetings.
He said three Japanese organizations were used to channel the payments to his country: the fisheries agency, the aid agency and the Overseas Fisheries Co-operation Foundation.
Tanzanian officials told the Times reporters that "good girls" were made available at the hotels for ministers and senior fisheries civil servants during all-expenses paid trips to Japan.