Kieran Mulvaney, the British leader of an international team in the Antarctic has demanded that Jack Straw ‘gets serious about Japan’s efforts to secure a return to full-scale commercial whaling’ after the UK Foreign Secretary failed to publicly condemn attempts by the Japanese government’s use of development aid to buy votes in support of commercial whaling.

The attack comes as a new report is published revealing that the Japanese government has spent tens of millions of US dollars buying up the votes of small nation states in the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the global body responsible for the management of whaling.

Mulvaney headed the team aboard the Greenpeace vessel MV Arctic Sunrise. He was speaking today from Melbourne after the vessel docked following a two month expedition to take non-violent direct action against the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic. He is deeply concerned by his own government’s silence over the Japanese government’s vote buying policy.

The New Zealand government has publicly condemned Japan’s manipulation of the IWC, but Jack Straw has pointedly failed to speak out against vote buying. Straw met Japanese foreign minister Makiko Tanaka last week, while foreign office minister Denis MacShane has announced a new ‘Green Alliance’ between Japan and the UK, yet there is no indication that the UK will condemn the Japanese government’s dollar diplomacy.

Today Mulvaney said: “These days more than ever we hear our politicians talking about the sanctity of international law, and yet when a major nation like Japan brazenly admits to engaging in bribery to subvert an international treaty, we don’t even hear a squeak of public disapproval. Now we’ve discovered the sums they’re willing to spend to secure a return to full-scale whaling, it’s time Jack Straw spoke up for the law and against Japanese vote buying.”

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Last year Maseyuku Komatsu, a senior official from the Fisheries Agency of Japan, admitted to Australian broadcaster ABC that his government secures votes in the IWC with promises of Overseas Development Aid. Now the new research, published today, reveals the staggering sums passing hands in the campaign to overturn the ban on commercial whaling.

According to the new report, the Japanese government has spent more than US$320m trying to overturn the whaling ban. It spent US$47m last year alone, buying up the votes of six countries. The donations are described by the Fisheries Agency of Japan as ‘fisheries aid grants,’ but the Prime  Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has admitted that the  money is in return for voting with Japan on whaling  issues. Recent fisheries aid grants from Japan to Caribbean countries total in excess of US$124m, while  subsidies for research whaling amount to US$113m. The figures were calculated following an appraisal of official Overseas Development Aid figures and publications from Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research.

The report, published by Greenpeace, reveals that more than US$24m has gone to Antigua and Barbuda and  Guinea alone. On top of international bribes, the Japanese government has hired international lobbyists and the services of the UK PR firm Lehmann Communications, as well as paying for high profile advertising campaigns.

Mulvaney added: “For weeks now I’ve watched as the whaling fleet fires explosive harpoons into a protected species, despite the ban. Now Japan is buying a return to full blown commercial whaling and Straw won’t comment. It’s time he spoke out. His silence so far has been deafening.”