27 Jun 2005

Nauru rejects Australian criticism over pro-Japanese whaling stance

2:37 pm on 27 June 2005

Nauru has rejected Australian criticism over its support of the Japanese stance at last week's International Whaling Commission meeting in South Korea.

The Nauru delegate, Marcus Stephen, has told The Age newspaper that comments by the Australian environment minister, Ian Campbell, were undiplomatic.

Mr Stephen says he believes Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati were all concerned about the way the Howard Government was treating the Pacific.

A diplomat from Kiribati, Tessie Lambourne, said reports that their votes had been bought by Japan were unfair and untrue.

Ms Lambourne says what the islands have in common is a dependence on the income from fisheries rights they assign to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the US.

Ms Lambourne said Kiribati had built a relationship with Japan through fisheries, and joined the IWC out of concern about conflicting views on whether reviving whale numbers would affect its fish.

The paper reports that now that they are in the IWC, nations such as Kiribati have given Australia a reminder that at least in this organisation, they count as equals.