A Greenpeace investigation has forced Japanese officials to admit that they will have diverted a large portion of money earmarked for disaster recovery to subsidize its annual whale hunt.
According to the Guardian, the government used 2.28 billion yen (US$30m) from the earthquake recovery fund, on top of its existing $6m annual subsidy, to pay for this year’s hunt.
“It is absolutely disgraceful for the Japanese government to pump yet more taxpayer money on an unneeded, unwanted and economically unviable whaling programme, when funds are desperately needed for recovery efforts,” said Junichi Sato, the executive director of Greenpeace Japan told the Guardian.
Officially, the funds were delivered to the Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR), the agency that runs Japan’s ‘research’ whaling program. This year, the hunt aims to kill 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales in the name of scientific research, even though 100 percent of the meat from the hunt is sold commercially.
The government justified using the disaster recovery money for whaling by claiming it will benefit some coastal towns devastated by this year’s tsunami.
“The government will support the reconstruction effort of a whaling town and nearby areas,” Fisheries Agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku told AFP. “This program can help it reconstruct food-processing plants there… Many people in the area eat whale meat, too. They are waiting for Japan’s commercial whaling to resume.”
Several Japanese groups had written a letter to the prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, protesting against the use of recovery cash.
“We demand the government not waste any more taxpayers’ money on the whaling program but instead spend this money on projects that actually help the people, communities and region affected by the tragic March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis,” the letter said.