ANDREW DARBY June 08, 2012
A screen grab of the Yahoo! Japan site.
Web giant Yahoo! is moving to distance itself from a Japanese affiliate found to be promoting the sale of whale meat.
Screen grabs taken from yahoo.co.jp's online store by the British-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) show it promoting tinned and fresh whale products, despite a ban by Yahoo! on such sales elsewhere in the world. See here and here.
But Yahoo! Inc told Fairfax Media it lacked the power to impose corporate policies on Yahoo! Japan.
EIA's investigation into the Japanese site turned up 249 whale products for sale.
"Many of these products originate from great whales - namely fin, sei, minke, sperm and Bryde's whale - all protected species under the moratorium on commercial whaling established by the International Whaling Commission since 1986," it said.
Among the products, seven were claimed to be for fin whale, a listed endangered species, from Iceland.
EIA said its investigators bought 10 cetacean products through the Yahoo! Japan online store of which three lacked a species name, contravening labelling laws, and five exceeded national limits for mercury contamination.
"DNA analysis of the products ... showed one product sold as 'fin whale bacon from Iceland' was in fact Southern Ocean minke whale."
The products ranged in price from 150 yen ($1.90) to 31,500 yen for a 2.6-kilogram variety set of whale meat and whale sashimi.
EIA and other anti-whaling groups said Yahoo! had made no significant effort to persuade its Japanese site to end the sale of whale and dolphin products.
Yahoo! Inc. said in a statement it did not allow the sale of dolphin, whale and elephant products in the countries in which it operates, including the United States and Europe.
"As Yahoo! is only a minority shareholder in Yahoo! Japan, however, we cannot unilaterally impose corporate policies on Yahoo! Japan. Any questions about Yahoo! Japan's business should be directed to them."
Yahoo! Japan did not respond to a request for comment.
This contrasts with Amazon Japan, which acted within minutes to remove whale products from its website after a similar EIA investigation found more than 100 listings earlier this year.