Tokyo Two Prosecution Continues Culture of Cover-ups

Press release - 17 June, 2009
The latest pre-trial meeting in the prosecution of Greenpeace Japan staff members, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, has revealed information contradicting claims made by the whaling industry.

Indicted for theft and trespass on July 11, 2008, Sato and Suzuki are currently on trial, and risk up to ten years in jail if convicted, after they exposed wide-scale embezzlement within the Japanese government-sponsored Southern Ocean whaling programme. 

"At the last pre-trial meeting, the judges expressed an opinion that it is difficult to exclude the embezzlement of whale meat in the case," said lead defence counsel Yuichi Kaido. "They urged the prosecutor to reconsider disclosing the related evidence, which the prosecutor had claimed was not necessary."

In response to this, a few days before this latest pre-trial the prosecutor disclosed a total of 26 depositions to the defence team. According to Kaido, this included statements given by six crew members of the factory whaling ship Nisshin Maru, the ship where the whale meat embezzlement occurred, as well as top officials from Kyodo Senpaku, the Institute of Cetacean Research, and a Fisheries Agency of Japan staff member.  

"These disclosures reveal that what the ICR and Kyodo Senpaku were claiming, that Kyodo Senpaku had "purchased" whale meat from the ICR to distribute as "souvenirs", is not the case," said Kaido. "There was no cash flow and no clear accounting process to prove this."

Furthermore, Kaido revealed that large, key parts of the disclosed evidence, particularly regarding the movement of individual whale products, were blanked out.

"The prosecution claims it has disclosed the evidence on a voluntary basis to help the trial progress," said Kaido. "I question why they do not feel the need to disclose all of the evidence, as the trial cannot move forward while important information is being hidden."

The next pre-trial is scheduled for August 4.

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,

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.


Greenpeace investigation:
Japan's stolen whale meat scandal

Whale Meat Scandal Part Two: The Cover Up

Prof. Dirk Voorhoof’s expert witness statement