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Former Japanese fisheries boss joins Lateline -

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Former Japanese Fisheries Agency chief Masayuki Komatsu speaks to Lateline.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: And earlier we were joined by Masayuki Komatsu, the former chief of the
Japanese Fisheries Agency who's in the past for many years represented Japan in IWC negotiations.

Masayuki Komatsu, thanks for joining us.

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: Thank you very much for inviting me.

TONY JONES: What do you believe will happen at the International Whaling Commission meeting in
Morocco next week?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU, FORMER CHIEF, JAPANESE FISHERIES AGENCY: I don't think anything happens because,
you know, there are wider gaps among member nations.

TONY JONES: The British newspaper the Sunday Times has published its investigation of vote buying
at the International Whaling Commission. It alleges that Japan has been engaged in paying money
directly to delegates from small nations. What do you say to that?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I think that it was made by reporter person who disguised himself to ask, you
know, member nations if it's probably conducted. I think a situation should be investigated further
and if that is, you know, truth, I think IWC must conduct some serious investigation for such a
conduct.

Not only our country being, you know, conducted of so called allegations of bribery but it should
be taken back before a moratorium. There are plenty of rumour at that time that vote buying by the
anti-whaling nation has been conducted, led by, you know, NGOs and the US and other anti, you know,
whaling nations that significantly influenced the adoption of the moratorium. I think all of those
should be investigated fully.

TONY JONES: Were you aware of vote buying or did you help buy the votes of delegates when you
represented Japan at the IWC?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: No, as far as I know that there is no bribery conducted or vote buying has been
conducted.

TONY JONES: One delegate, the Head of Fisheries in Guinea told the newspaper that Japan pays
millions in aid to his country but it also pays the bills for the delegation's travel, for their
hotels, for their meals and it gives each delegate $300 a day in spending money.

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I think that sort of, you know, comment and any conduct being, you know,
conducted by the, you know, sort of interview should be investigated and perhaps, you know, IWC
must exercise investigation of any conduct of the, you know, conduct being conducted currently and
in the past. I think it's a good opportunity for IWC to normalise those kind of things.

TONY JONES: Well, if Japan is doing this, if it's making these payments, would you regard that as
corrupt?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I think before that there should be investigation because newspaper says that,
you know, that obtainment of the information is, you know, made by the kind of pseudo or
pretending, you know, guys try to contact with the representative of a particular countries. So I
think that should be investigated first.

TONY JONES: Okay, let's move on. Do you still say that minke whales are the cockroaches of the sea?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I think what I mean by, what I meant by saying so is that, you know, cockroach is
plenty in its number and also reproduction is very rapid and big that's why I, you know, imitated
to the minke whales, related to the minke whales. I believe that there are still, you know, plenty
of minke whale in the Southern Ocean which no-one's territory, which should be utilised and
investigated for the scientific reason and for the benefit of the all human being, particularly for
the sake of the peace.

TONY JONES: Japan wants the Commission to lift the ban on commercial whaling, including in the
Southern Ocean around Antarctica. If that happens will that bring an end to your so called
scientific whaling?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I don't think so. I don't think a Commission could make such, you know, legal
activity. If that should be done I think, you know, it should be investigated and carefully, you
know, levied whether it's scientifically and conventionally appropriate. I don't think that should
be collective decisions if such action should be taken.

TONY JONES: In 2009 Japan set out to kill as many as 935 whales in Antarctic waters in the Southern
Ocean but according to your figures it only killed 506, why is that?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I think it's because of the, you know, sabotage or terrorist-like activity by the
Sea Shepherd. It's really disturbed activity of research whaling in the Southern Oceans. If there
were no such, you know, terrorist-like activity or sabotage, I'm sure that Japan had accomplished
entire missions.

TONY JONES: But I've read a recent interview that you did in Japan where you say the catch was
lowered because of the sluggish sales of whale meat. They reduce the catch to keep the prices high,
isn't that what you said?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I think that is also true because of the stagnation of the sales of whale meat.
Some government officer tried to think that if reduction of the, you know, supply would be down
that may lead to a bit higher price of, you know, the whale meat.

TONY JONES: Well, that's just supply and demand, isn't it? That's got nothing to do with science?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I think yes, it sort of, you know, responding supply and demand but I must say
that, you know, Article Eight of the Convention stipulate the conduct of, you know, scientific
research activity but article Eight, paragraph Two, clearly mentions that, you know, by-product
should be hundred and sold at the market of appropriate countries, in this case in Japan.

TONY JONES: As you know the Australian Government is planning to take legal action against Japan in
the International Court of Justice to stop this so-called scientific whaling. What will Japan do if
Australia wins that case?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: Main reason to take, you know, research activity to the ICJ, International Court
of Justice, is to say that, you know, Japanese whaling is a commercial activity thereby it's
contrary to the moratorium which Australia believes are still, you know, in effect.

I don't think that argument constitute any good reasons. Firstly, Japan's activity is fully
recognised and permitted under Article Eight of the convention which is relating to the scientific
whaling. Secondly, I think a moratorium is not valid anymore under the situation where we have seen
plenty of minke whales, humpbacks and fin whale in Southern Ocean as well as any other ocean over
the world.

Thereby I don't think moratorium is any more effective so that reason Australia and the litigation
is not anymore valid.

TONY JONES: But the Australians will argue in the court that you don't need to kill whales in order
to study them.

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I keep saying to Australian Government and New Zealand Government you are leisure
activity is inefficient to obtain the appropriate level of the sampling. In particular you have no
biopsy sampling for the minke whales and the fin whales such as, you know, fin whale types of the
whales which migrates swiftly. Thereby your conduct does not constitute any scientific ground to
elucidate the whale science in the Southern Ocean.

TONY JONES: Will this case hurt relations between Australia and Japan?

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: I think it depends and if Australia fully understands what Japan is doing in
terms of a scientific, you know, research sincerely and after you fully understand what we are
doing, I don't think it's really hurt bilateral relations.

But what we need is sincere, open discussions. I am lucky enough that even though I was sort of
opponent of Australia, I really welcomed by many of the Australian people because I believe that I
am a bit frank to you.

TONY JONES: Masayuki Komatsu, we'll have you leave you there. We thank you very much for taking the
time to join us.

MASAYUKI KOMATSU: Thank you so much, thank you for, you know, giving me opportunity.