Tokyo two Pre-trail hearings continue: A proper defence requires all the evidence says Greenpeace

Press release - 4 August, 2009
While over three million visitors are hitting the streets of Aomori to see the colourful floats of the Nebuta festival, the Tokyo Two defence counsel is in court wrangling over the disclosure of important evidence.

The ongoing trial against Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki has seen the prosecution work to conceal as much evidence as possible. This strategy appears to be running out of steam, however, as the Aomori court this week directed the prosecutor to disclose all evidence relating to the case to the judges, so they can decide if it is relevant for inclusion in the case.

Greenpeace is confident that when the judges read all of the prosecution's evidence they will not only see that Junichi and Toru are innocent of any crime, but that their actions were in the greater public interest as they sought to expose criminal embezzlement within the taxpayer-funded whaling industry.

"There is a growing international concern about the case of the Tokyo Two," said international human rights lawyer Richard Harvey. "This is not just about whaling, nor human rights in Japan. It is about the rights of all citizens to investigate and expose evidence of public officials suspected of corruption and embezzlement. 

"International law requires that Junichi and Toru be allowed to present all documents and relevant evidence in the case so that the court and the public will have a clear understanding of the reasons for their actions," added Harvey.

"We in the international human rights community therefore look to the Aomori Court to ensure that all their rights of defence are respected and to make clear to the world that all they have ever sought to do was to expose public corruption."

Due to the issues surrounding the disclosure of evidence, the court has again extended the pre-trial process with another hearing on November 20.

While the court debates the disclosure of evidence, Greenpeace activists in traditional Japanese Yukata dress have distributed over 6,500 fans calling on the Japanese public to support a fair trial for the Junichi and Toru.

If this is to be a fair trial and the court is determined to uphold the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Japan is a party to, then Greenpeace hopes that it will order the full disclosure of all evidence related to the Tokyo Two case.

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

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

Kyoko Murakami - Greenpeace Japan Communications
+81 (0)3 5338 9816, +81 (0)80 5088 3048,

Notes: 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.