This article examines whether a country's vote in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) influences the bilateral aid it receives from Japan. While whaling is of marginal importance to the Japanese economy, it carries significant cultural and emotional value in Japan. The puzzle, then, is whether Japan links the issues of IWC voting and bilateral aid provision. Does Japan reward countries that vote with it at the IWC by disbursing higher levels of bilateral development aid to those countries? To examine this puzzle, we examine IWC votes of 26 developing countries over 1999–2004 along with their development needs and economic ties with Japan. Our analysis suggests that Japanese bilateral aid to developing countries is significantly associated with the countries' IWC voting records. These results hold across a range of statistical specifications. Thus, our article provides evidence to suggest that Japan has employed material incentives to defend its cultural preferences regarding whaling in the face of opposition from pro-conservation IWC members and environmental NGOs.

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