Secret voting for whales

Via JA I find David @ Tokyo who blogs about Caribbean Loses Drive For Secret Ballot At Whale Meet. Now I find this a bit weird… the caribbean nations don’t have any interest in whaling; they are interested only because they are being bought off by the Japanese (is this wrong? why else do they want to whale?). So… they want to vote in favour of whaling, but can’t do this in public because they might get boycotted etc. So they want to vote in favour in private. But then… how does anyone know how they’ve voted? Who will buy their votes?

Or is there some kind of loyalty/honesty to the being bought process… I’m not sure how buying votes works in the std democratic process… when govts fling freebies at the people, the process works somewhat in reverse: you get the freebies whether you promise to vote or not; presumably you vote for them in the (usually disappointed) expectation of more freebies in the future if they get back in.

9 thoughts on “Secret voting for whales”

  1. I guess the idea is that if Japan loses a vote with secret ballots they will just stop giving aid to everyone they bought. So for a country to defect will either make no difference in the outcome or cost them a lot of money giving them no incentive to vote in any other way than agreed on. Some of them might even hope that anti-whaling countries will put up as much money, then they can vote any way they want and still get money from either side. At least until the next US President decide to invade those little Islands in the war against whaling. USA *needs* new wars every few years, and if Iraq was too dangerous a few Carribean states should be easy enough.


  2. I can’t speak for the Caribbean, but I do research in Kiribati, one of the Pacific island nations that joined the IWC and supported Japan and the end of the whaling ban. As I explain on my blog: (, for year Japan has funding development projects in many of the Pacific Island nations like Kiribati. People suspect the financial aid can go a long way to securing cheap fishing rights. So it’s no surprise that Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Solomons agreed to join the IWC and vote to end the ban. There votes may not have been explictily bought; but with the Japanese influence, the Pacific nations are more likely to buy the Japaense argument that the whaling ban threatens fish stocks.


  3. Eli,

    There is no incompatibility with whale-watching and whaling activities. Both require robust stocks of whales.

    In St Vincent and the Grenadines, there are actually too few whales to build an industry on it:
    (see the last bit)

    As Simon says, Japan has built relationships with these nations based on their ODA programmes.

    Ultimately I believe that these nations support Japan on principle. They don’t see anything wrong with whaling providing that it is sustainable.


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