IWC corruption

Sunday Times - Japanese pay whaling chief’s £4,000 hotel bill

Why is a small travel firm footing the bill for Antiguan ambassador to Japan, Anthony Liverpool - the man key to the future of whales?
The Sunday Times Insight team

Published: 20 June 2010

Japan hopes to overturn a ban on commercial whaling that has been in place for 24 years (AP) The Antiguan ambassador to Japan, Anthony Liverpool, flew to Morocco last week preparing to play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the oceans’ whales.

He had been thrust into the role of stand-in chairman for the International Whaling Commission (IWC) after the incumbent fell ill.  Top of the agenda is a move backed by Japan and its supporters to resume commercial whaling after a gap of 24 years. It will require a strong and unbiased chairman to handle the commission’s anti and pro-whaling factions.

However, The Sunday Times’s revelation that Liverpool has accepted a fortnight’s free accommodation at a luxury hotel raises serious questions about his impartiality and suitability to lead the IWC meeting, which begins tomorrow.

When he checked into the Atlas Amadil Beach hotel in Agadir last Sunday, somebody had already paid his bill of about £4,000 by credit card.
Investigations by this newspaper have established that the name on the card was “Japan Tours and Travel Inc”. The firm is an unusual choice of travel company as it is based in Houston, Texas, 2,000 miles from Liverpool’s home.

The firm is linked to a Japanese businessman called Hideuki “Harry” Wakasa, who also lives in Houston. A whistleblower last week identified Wakasa as the middleman who paid cash and cheques to five east Caribbean islands, including Antigua. When a reporter contacted Liverpool at his hotel on Friday, questions about Japan funding his stay were initially met with long silences. The conversation went on:

Reporter: [The] money comes from the Japanese government. Or the Japanese whaling association or the Japanese co-operation foundation? Which suggests that you are — as the chair of the meeting, it seems odd ... that they should be paying for your hotel?
Liverpool: Yes, but there is nothing extremely odd about that . . .
Reporter: Does he also pay for your flight?
Liverpool: At this point in time?
Reporter: Yes Liverpool: Uhuh [agrees].
However, Liverpool changed his line when the reporter read out a passage from the IWC convention that said: “The expenses of each member of the commission and of his experts and advisers shall be determined and paid by his own government.”

Liverpool said his government had provided support for him to attend the meeting “in a significant way” and claimed he did not know Wakasa. While he did not deny being funded by the Japanese, he did say the country’s “government” was not paying for him.
Yesterday Barry Gardiner MP, a former Labour biodiversity minister, called on Liverpool to step down. “To be in any way compromised by Japan, which is notorious for buying up votes, is unacceptable,” Gardiner said.

The IWC will this week consider a proposal that quotas should be introduced to allow commercial whaling. Japan, Iceland and Norway would be able to kill 1,800 whales a year, including endangered species.

For Japan it is the culmination of a long campaign to win support for whaling by recruiting small impoverished nations to the IWC.
Last week The Sunday Times exposed how Japan was buying votes from small nations using aid, cash and prostitutes to gain their support on the IWC.
The story went round the world. It was also read by a whistleblower who was in touch with Greenpeace, the environmental campaign group, in Tokyo to tell it about his role in Japan’s vote-buying operation. The whistleblower, “Mr A”, told The Sunday Times that he had worked for years as an executive for a Japanese company which built fisheries aid projects in underdeveloped countries.

He said he held a series of “very, very unofficial” meetings with Japanese civil servants who encouraged his company to sound out IWC countries, or potential IWC countries, which would pledge voting support in return for aid.

After arranging almost 50 fisheries projects for about 20 countries, Mr A had first-hand knowledge of the secret payments and the characters involved.
He provided a list of 16 countries being paid for their votes ahead of this week’s meeting on the future of whaling. In each case he claimed Japan paid for a delegation to travel to the IWC and funded the country’s membership fees of £7,000-£10,000 a year.

The Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Republic of Guinea, Benin, Gabon, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco were all named. He also included five east Caribbean nations: St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Antigua and Barbuda.

Mr A said he had recently been talking to an official in Japan’s foreign ministry who told him the embassy in Trinidad had offered to pay Liverpool’s expenses during the Morocco meeting.

When a reporter made inquiries at Liverpool’s hotel in Morocco, we found he was staying there from June 13 to 28 and his bill was being paid by Japan Tours and Travel.

Mr A said he had also organised trips through this small firm and that Wakasa used it frequently. He said Wakasa was the whalers’ key man in the east Caribbean.
“The east Caribbean islands were on our side. Their membership fees for the IWC were paid for by Wakasa who also gave them air fares, paid for their hotels, as well as subsistence money when they attended IWC meetings,” he said.

Mr A said Wakasa was an agent for Japanese whaling interests funded by his country’s government. He worked on behalf of the Japan Whaling Association which is financed indirectly by the Fisheries Agency and the Overseas Fisheries Co-operation Foundation (OFCF), an agency sponsored by the agriculture ministry.
Mr A said funding between the two bodies was interchangeable but the OFCF had a £540,000-a-year slush fund to meet the expenses and fees of the countries that supported its pro-whaling position on the IWC. Delegates were given $300 to $500 spending money during meetings.

Front Page lead in:
Japanese pay for whale delegates
Anthony Liverpool, chairman of the summit, has accepted free flights and the £4,000 cost of staying at a luxury hotel
The Sunday Times Insight team
Published: 20 June 2010

Anthony Liverpool will open the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in MoroccoThe chairman of this week’s international summit on whaling is being secretly funded by a Japanese company to stay in a luxury hotel.
Anthony Liverpool will open the crucial International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Morocco tomorrow which could vote to lift a 24-year ban on commercial whaling.
He has accepted free flights and the £4,000 cost of staying at a hotel with a private beach during the meeting. The hotel bills of five other countries’ delegates are also being paid.
The payments will increase concern that Japan is bribing delegates to secure support for whaling and may be in breach of the IWC convention which says: “The expenses of each member of the commission ... shall be determined and paid by his own government.”
Richard Benyon, the minister for fisheries, will raise what he called “these very serious allegations” at the IWC meeting.
On Friday Liverpool, the Antiguan IWC vice-chairman who will stand in as chairman at the meeting, said he did not know who was paying for his trip. “I am just aware of getting support through agencies,” he said.
However, inquiries have shown that his bill at a hotel in Agadir is being paid by Japan Tours and Travel of Houston, a company said to be linked to Hideuki “Harry” Wakasa, who has previously been identified as the middleman who makes secret payments to the pro-whaling Caribbean countries.

Charles Clover: Debt and shame may scupper Japan’s whalers
I confidently predict that it will affect its standing in international negotiations for years — no wonder Japan is madly denying it

The Sunday Times Published: 20 June 2010

You have to feel sorry for the poor Japanese taxpayer. The country is drowning in debt and what does the government spend its money on? A whaling fleet — while shrinking numbers of Japanese actually eat whale.
It also bribes officials from small countries with air tickets, aid and sexual favours to vote in support of whaling.
This newspaper’s hilarious sting exposing officials in receipt of brown envelopes and offers of prostitutes proved what the conspiracy theorists have been saying for years to be absolutely correct.
Not only does Japan offer tied aid and force the officials of poor landlocked countries such as Mali to spout rhetorical nonsense — such as the extraordinary claim that whales are a threat to fish stocks — but it also offers the kinds of inducements formerly associated with corrupt arms manufacturers to countries that toe the Japanese line.

This is utterly disgraceful and, I confidently predict, will affect Japan’s standing in international negotiations for years. No wonder Japan is madly denying it.
There is one, perhaps even more disgraceful, thing about the revelations over the past week: they have not been widely reported in the Japanese press.
As anyone who has watched it operate in international meetings and at home knows, the country’s press is obsequious.

The way Japan conducts itself is unacceptable and its bad behaviour is likely to extend beyond whaling It is obsequious for a reason: a correspondent will not be given stories or even asked to briefings if he does not toe the line.

It is as if the cosy lobby system that operates in Britain for parliamentary reporters applied across the mainstream media and its enforcers looked a lot like the officials that push you around on the Tokyo subway.

This, I suspect, is why there have been few stories in Japan about the £543,000 slush fund that pays fees and travel expenses for officials from small countries to travel to vote, or the subsidies that find their way from the Fisheries Agency of Japan to people who call African delegates and say: “Do you want massaging? It’s going to be free massaging . . .”

Nor does there seem to be much public questioning of the Japanese government’s £830m-a-year fisheries aid budget — which seems to promote support for whaling among small Caribbean, African and Pacific nations — or the potential multi-million-pound replacement cost of its ageing whaling fleet. So far there has been one mention in an English-language newspaper of the allegations about aid but no mention of prostitutes, which you would have thought was the clearest indication that the Japanese whaling industry was corrupt.

Some strange things go on. In 2008 two Japanese Greenpeace activists alleged that the agency officials and whalers who operate Japan’s bogus “scientific” whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean were taking hundreds of kilos of whale meat for private gain when the revenue from the sale of meat is supposed to go back to support the Fisheries Agency.

The activists tracked the boxes, took one containing 23 kilos of whale meat, presented it to the authorities and reported the crew for alleged embezzlement. What happened? Investigations of the whalers were dropped, but the “Tokyo Two” were then charged with trespass and theft of the meat. They were convicted in a trial that has just ended, with the prospect of an 18-month jail sentence.

There are, of course, cultural reasons for all this. The Japan Whaling Association was incredibly successful in the 1970s and 1980s in persuading the Japanese public that the attempt to ban whaling was an exercise in cultural imperialism by the West, directed at a traditional Japanese activity. Yet whaling on an industrial scale is something Japan has done only since 1945.

Although this newspaper’s revelations have not been fully reported in Japan, they are being widely discussed in the corridors of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Agadir, Morocco.

For a while, at least, former allies will be shuffling away and neutral countries wondering how a vote supporting Japan will look in the future, which can only be good. The Japanese delegation, representing the centre-left government of Naoto Kan, who took office this month pledging to tackle the debt mountain, does appear mindful of the expense of subsidised whaling.

There can be no other reason why it is discussing a deal which could stop Japan whaling in the Southern Ocean altogether. It would be a bold step for Japan to bring its “scientific” whaling fleet, which has operated for 20 years in the Southern Ocean under a loophole in the convention, back under IWC control. It would take courage for the anti-whaling nations to accept a limited return to scientifically justified commercial whaling in return for a deal that would be good for whales. Both might just happen this week.

Whether or not that 20-year-old impasse over the “scientific” whaling loophole is broken, something else has changed. We have realised that the way Japan conducts itself on the world stage is unacceptable and that its bad behaviour is likely to extend beyond whaling. You wonder what favours were involved in the successful campaign orchestrated by Japan against proposals to list the bluefin tuna and 12 other marine species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species earlier this year. Free supplies of tuna, perhaps?

Japan accused of using aid to get support for whaling

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Japan used aid money to persuade developing countries to support its whaling, according to a whistleblower who has spoken to the BBC.
The man, who went first to Greenpeace, worked for a private company which implemented development projects on behalf of the Japanese government.
His allegations come on the eve of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Morocco.
For 18 years Mr A - as he wants to be known - travelled the developing world for a private Japanese company.
His job was to arrange projects such as new harbours that would be paid for by Japan's overseas aid budget.
Key question

Japan has long denied buying support for its stance on whaling.
But Mr A told the BBC that during negotiations the make-or-break question was whether the country would side with Tokyo at the IWC.
Continue reading the main story<>

 *   Objection - A country formally objects to the IWC moratorium, declaring itself exempt. Example: Norway
 *   Scientific - A nation issues unilateral 'scientific permits'; any IWC member can do this. Example: Japan
 *   Aboriginal - IWC grants permits to indigenous groups for subsistence food. Example: Alaskan Inupiat
Culture clash over Japan whaling<> Whales - 'resource' or 'right'?<>
"If the answer is affirmative, saying yes, or more or less affirmative, then we start talking about the project. Helping them to build up their fisheries industries," Mr A said.
However this was not always the response.
There were "a couple of countries where I received quite explicit answer or reply, saying No. Like Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania, and other countries in African continent," Mr A said.
"In that case I said simply thank you very much and I went away."
There was then no question of a fisheries grant being given, he said.
Mr A went first to Greenpeace to make his allegations.
He said he was disgusted that many of the development projects he spent his career working on were a waste of Japanese taxpayers' money.
'Regrettable policy'

Mr A has chosen to speak out on the eve of the International Whaling Commission's meeting in Morocco.
At the moment Japan justifies its hunts as scientific research, while not hiding the fact that whale meat ends up on dinner plates.
The IWC will debate a proposal to end the ban on commercial whaling that has been in place since 1986 in return for whaling nations agreeing to smaller quotas.
Masayuki Komatsu, Japan's chief negotiator until 2004, says his country should "simply dump" the proposal in the rubbish bin.
Mr Komatsu, the author of several books about whaling, says there are "plenty" of whale resources and Japan should not be asked to cut its quota.
Asked whether Japan had been linking its aid to the whaling issue, he said he had advocated that Japanese aid should officially be linked to whaling issues "as a matter of sustainable principle".

However, he said that while many politicians shared his views, they were not fully addressed and "regrettably" Japan's policy was of delinking aid.
Japan it has acknowledged that it has invested heavily in the fishing industries of some smaller countries on the IWC.

Their votes will be critical in Morocco.