We Request for an Urgent Review and the Return of Disaster Recovery Fund Used on Research Whaling

We Request for an Urgent Review and the Return of Disaster Recovery Fund Used on Research Whaling

Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network
Greenpeace Japan

October 5, 2012

Shigematsu Hiroyuki
President of Board of Audit of Japan

CC: The Disaster Recovery Ministry, the House of Representatives Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration, and the Fisheries Agency

The earthquake and tsunami last March destroyed many local communities and have left a deep scar on the region. Despite various support extended from inside and outside Japan to rebuild the affected areas, their recovery is still far from completion. During such a difficult time, we learned and pointed out that 2.28 billion yen of the recovery fund, money supposed to be allocated to the recovery of disaster-hit areas, was going into research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean - far from North East Japan. We sent a protest letter to the Fisheries Agency requesting the recovery money be spent on support for the effected areas, but we still have not heard from the agency about the details of how 2.28 billion yen of our taxpayers’ money is spent.

The financial statements of the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), the operative body of research whaling that received the grant, indicates the group fell into capital deficiency of 870 million yen as of September 2011. The media reports that it is a “crippling situation and a corresponding financial institution would withhold loans if it were a regular business.” The statements also show that the revenue from whale meat sales plummeted from 5.47 billion yen in the previous year to 1.77 billion yen, and the whale meat stock earmarked as ‘current asset’ surged from 9.46 million yen in the previous year to 960 million yen. The figures strongly indicate that the increases in inventory caused by the sluggish sales of whale meat have strangled management. In another words, we suspect that the recovery fund for Ishinomaki City was diverted under the slogans such as “recovery” and “anti-whaling group countermeasure” to improve the finances of the ICR struggling from stressed management and low meat sales. This is not an appropriate use of the recovery fund.

Recent media exposed the abuse of recovery funds was not limited to research whaling, but still took up the example of funds diverting to research whaling as a striking example. Japanese citizens can hardly understand such uses of tax money, and it should be returned to the rightful recipients of the disaster-struck areas.

Other news reported that a grant from the “Profitable Fisheries Support Project,” which subsidizes fisheries trying to increase profit by streamlining their business, would be added from this year to the current annual subsidy of 700 million yen to support research whaling. We believe this “profitable fisheries” grant should go to North East Japan, still struggling to recover, to help the local fisheries become sustainable, and certainly not spent on research whaling that has no prospects as a project.

Until now the Japanese government had claimed both nationally and internationally that “Japan’s research whaling is not commercial whaling.” If the government is to give the grant to research whaling as a “profitable fisheries business,” together with last year’s use of recovery fund, strong criticism from within and outside of Japan is expected, for diverting tax money on something inconsistent with the original objectives. In addition, as it has been pointed out already in the government project review, the fact that the operation of whaling, and therefore these grants, have been given out to the same organizations on a no-bid contract for many years is also a concern. In light of these, we request the following:

  1. Investigate in detail the purposes and breakdowns of the 2,284 million yen from the 2011 fiscal year disaster recovery fund used in research whaling.

  2. Review how the recovery fund supported the recovery of Ishinomaki City, and if the effect was worth the amount of the injected money. If not, request the grant to be returned.

  3. Request the cancelation of the “Profitable Fisheries” grant on research whaling, as it is not supposed to be a commercial operation.

  4. Review subsidizing the research whaling operation, taking into account that the ICR slumped to capital deficit because of the plunge in demand for whale meat despite the years of financial support from the government.