Japan has succeeded in buying the votes that will give it control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) later this week, in a major step towards bringing back commercial hunting of whales. The pro-whaling nation has gained the support of three more small countries to give it a definite majority in the IWC, and so begin in earnest its attack on the international whaling moratorium which has been in force for 20 years. Its takeover of the IWC – likely to become clear on Friday – will be a major reverse for the international environmental movement, which has long thought that the fight for one of its iconic causes – Save the Whale – had been largely won. It will be a considerable propaganda victory not only for the Japanese, but also for other nations who are determined to continue whale hunting in spite of international opinion, principally Norway and Iceland. But Japan has done all the work. It marks the climax of a 10-year campaign of using substantial foreign aid packages to persuade small countries – often with no whaling tradition, or even a coastline – to join the IWC and vote on the Japanese […]

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