Fisheries agency warned not to accept whale meat gifts

TOKYO —

The Japanese fisheries agency has warned its officials against accepting whale meat as gifts from whalers, just weeks after Japan’s whaling expedition left for the Antarctic Ocean for its annual hunts.

The agency reprimanded five officials for accepting whale meat from a fisheries company that operates the government-funded whaling programs from 1999 to 2008, agency official Koji Hamada said Friday.

The whale meat gifts totaled some 25 kilograms, worth more than 270,000 yen at market value, he said.

The officials were suspected of violating public servants’ ethical standards. They acknowledged accepting the gifts after returning from each whaling expedition they accompanied separately as a supervisor. The punishment was announced Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Japanese whalers left for the Antarctic Ocean for their annual hunts, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society boats have also left New Zealand in pursuit.

Clashes between the whalers and opponents have escalated in recent years, and a Sea Shepherd boat sunk after a collision with a whaling ship last January. Each hunting season runs from about December through February.

The agency’s investigation followed media allegations last year that whalers and officials were siphoning off meat from the tax-funded whaling programs, Hamada said. Two Greenpeace activists in 2008 stole a package containing whale meat, claiming it was proof of wrongdoing.

A Japanese court in September convicted them of trespassing and theft, ordering suspended prison terms while acknowledging murky gift-giving practices among whaling officials.

Hamada said whaling operators Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha and the Institute of Cetacean Research have been asked to stop sending whale meat gifts to officials. He denied the punishment had anything to do with the ruling.

“The point is, whether it is whale meat or not, we should not accept any gifts that invite suspicion from the public,” he said.

Japan hunts whales under the research exemption to a 1986 worldwide ban on commercial hunts. Critics say there is no reason to kill the animals, and that the research program amounts to commercial whaling in disguise because surplus meat from the hunt is sold domestically.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    So their 'warning' was a verbal reprimand? How harsh! I'm sure accepting 270,000 yen of the meat is well worth a little, "Hey, guys... try not to do that again, please!"

  • 0

    combinibento

    It's not like they were breaking these ethics rules on porpoise! It's only a fluke.

  • 0

    wanderlust

    Not even for research?

  • 0

    hokkaidoguy

    So their 'warning' was a verbal reprimand? How harsh! I'm sure accepting 270,000 yen of the meat is well worth a little, "Hey, guys... try not to do that again, please!"

    There were 5 of them, so that would be 54,000 each at the shop, probably less than half that in wholesale terms. That's worth a written reprimand, but not much else.

  • 0

    Junnama

    Even whale bacon? That stuff tastes great... Err, is very important for research...

  • 0

    nylex4

    payola in japan?? what is the world coming to??

  • 0

    koriyamaboy

    Why does this program have to be funded by tax payers? If it is so deeply embedded in Japanese culture, should it not be able to sustain itself?

  • 0

    Nessie

    Why does this program have to be funded by tax payers? If it is so deeply embedded in Japanese culture, should it not be able to sustain itself?

    What, like rice farming sustains itself?

  • 0

    taj

    270000 yen over the years of 1999-2008? That doesn't actually amount to that much per season. And seriously, not a big deal. At work we have our "global policy" of zero gifts accepted from clients, and our local policy: declare and share anything you expect is under 10,000 and refuse anything above that. Refusing ALL gifts is really culturally inappropriate in most cases. Government officials that we do business with are very strict though, and that is a good thing.

  • 0

    sf2k

    flagrant and continuous gift corruption in Japan? I'm shocked, shocked

  • 0

    j4p4nFTW

    This is NOT an issue and NOT something people need to be commenting on unless they are directly involved.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    hokkaidoguy: "There were 5 of them, so that would be 54,000 each at the shop, probably less than half that in wholesale terms. That's worth a written reprimand, but not much else"

    It was against the ethical standards set up for civil servants, and worse than that (for many here, I'm sure), it showed more of the negative side of Japan's 'science program'. It's corruption, and while ultimately it may be divided into the small number you mentioned, they still deserve far more than a reprimand. They should be suspended or fired.

  • 0

    dontpanic

    Tacit recognition of the sensitivity attached to whaling.

  • 0

    sf2k

    Tacit recognition of a corrupt system

  • 0

    Matthew Hughes

    hi Japanese whalers the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary protest stop whaling

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