Japan win on bluefin tuna showed deft hand at CITES endangered species meeting
The experienced and large delegation from Japan showed a deft hand in its win against a bluefin tuna ban and other measures at the 175-nation CITES meeting on endangered species in Qatar.
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The ban, proposed by western Mediterranean nation Monaco, would have allowed EU members to fish and trade the bluefin among themselves: an arrangement that smacked of Western double standards to some in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Japanese lobbyists were able to play on that perception in their pitches to many countries in those regions.Skip to next paragraph
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Some, however, are convinced that Japanese negotiators wouldn’t have been up to the job by themselves.
Teaming up with China?
“I just don’t think Japanese diplomacy is that sophisticated; take Japan’s application for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council – not one single country supported us,” argues Takashi Koyama, visiting professor of politics at Akita University. “If you compare Japanese diplomats to Chinese diplomats, for example, in terms of their English ability and their knowledge about to act, there’s no comparison. The Japanese are not good enough.”
Rumors also circle of a quid pro quo arrangement at CITES with China, to exploit its growing international influence.
“The Japanese government did a deal with China. They agreed to support China on the shark fishing ban – because shark fin soup is the most important thing to the Chinese – if China would support Japan on the bluefin tuna issue,” says a source familiar with the negotiations.
Japanese media coverage varied to an unusual degree, outlet to outlet, from what is normally a remarkably uniform voice. The ostensibly liberal Asahi Shimbun newspaper opened its coverage of the bluefin vote with: “Developing nations and an apparent push from China led to a rejection...by a margin that surprised even Japan,” apparently suggesting the votes had materialized without any pressure from Tokyo.
The Nikkei, the leading business daily, was more accepting of the realpolitik, calling the vote a “victory for Japan's extensive lobbying efforts.”
But environmentalists say these victories are hollow ones.