Greenpeace launches Supreme Court appeal for Tokyo Two

Press release - 5 October, 2009
Greenpeace is taking whaling all the way to Japan's Supreme Court today, following a decision by the Sendai High Court to reject an appeal for the disclosure of key evidence in the trial of activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki.

The first appeal was rejected on the 28th of September, prompting the new special appeal to the Supreme Court. This appeal asserts that if the prosecutor does not disclose this evidence it is in violation of Article 37 (2) of the Japanese Constitution, as well as Article 14 (3)(b) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantee the right to a fair trial.

Sato and Suzuki, known as the Tokyo Two, are on trial for intercepting a box of whale meat as part of an investigation into an embezzlement ring within Japan's so-called "research" whaling programme. However, what should have been a fair trial is being frustrated at every stage by the withholding of f evidence that could further prove the embezzlement and by extension Sato and Suzuki's innocence.

"The Democratic Party of Japan's landslide election shows that people have had enough of rampant bureaucracy and the corruption it is infamous for," said Jun Hoshikawa, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan. "The DPJ has promised to eliminate corruption and the waste of taxpayer money, increase government transparency and adhere to international human rights standards.

"By focussing its efforts on the whaling industry and ensuring the Tokyo Two receive a fair trial, the new government can demonstrate to the Japanese public and the international community that it is committed to its election promises."

Fundamental to a fair trial is the ability of the defence to access all evidence held by the prosecution, which may demonstrate the innocence of the defendants or mitigate their guilt. Similar failures to disclose evidence have earned Japan repeated criticism (1) from UN human rights bodies. The Tokyo Two case shows that this problem remains.

"The decision to withhold key evidence is a violation of Junichi and Toru's human rights" said Hoshikawa "And, like its controversial and so-called "scientific" whaling programme, Japan's 99% conviction rate and its reluctance to allow defendants a fair day in court is an international disgrace."

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

Notes: (1) United Nations criticism:

1. UN Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of Japan submitted under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 18 December 2008, UN Doc. CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5. Relevant paragraphs: 18 and 26.

2. UN Committee Against Torture, Concluding Observations on the Initial Periodic Report of Japan submitted under Article 19 of the UN Convention Against Torture, 3 August 2007, UN Doc. CAT/C/JPN/CO/1. Relevant paragraphs: 13 and 15

3. UN Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on the Fourth Periodic Report of Japan submitted under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 19 November 1998, UN Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add.102. Relevant paragraph: 26

All available here

Background

In April 2008 Greenpeace began an investigation into whistleblower allegations that organised whale meat embezzlement was being conducted by crew inside Japan's so-called "scientific" whaling programme, which is funded by Japanese taxpayers. The informer was previously involved in the whaling programme, and following his advice Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki began an investigation, eventually discovering firm evidence that cardboard boxes containing whale meat were being secretly shipped to the homes of whaling fleet crew - and then sold for personal profit. Junichi delivered a box of this whale meat to the Tokyo Prosecutors' Office in May 2008, and filed a report of embezzlement. However, the embezzlement investigation was dropped on June 20 - the same day that both men were arrested and then held for 26 days before being charged with theft and trespass.

More: http://www.greenpeace.org/tokyo-two

Other contacts: Greg McNevin - Greenpeace International Communications, +81 (0)80 5416 6506,

Kyoko Murakami - Greenpeace Japan Communications, +81 (0)80 5008 3048,

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