Dr. Martin Luther King Junior once said

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

After acting on this fundamental principle, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, now known as the Tokyo 2, currently risk their freedom for simply having acted in the interest of the Japanese people by exposing an embezzlement scandal in the whaling industry, and calling on the government to investigate it.

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As the trial date of February 15, 2010 approaches, a recent report of the Working group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) of the of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has concluded that the Japanese government breached a series of internationally guaranteed human rights by detaining Junichi and Toru, who had uncovered major corruption in the whaling programme. In observing that the rights of the two men have been breached by the justice system, the Tokyo Two and Greenpeace’s position on this issue has now been vindicated and corroborated by the competent United Nations body through its report. With this, we hope that the court takes due care to judge the case fairly.

The Working Group noted that the principal and only motivation behind their actions was the greater public interest, as they sought to expose criminal embezzlement. It recognises that they willingly cooperated with the police and the Public Prosecutor, that this cooperation was not acknowledged, and that the Government did not itself submit any essential information, such as details of their activities as environmental activists, the investigation they carried out, the evidence they gathered or the help they gave to authorities to formally investigate their allegations.

Finally, in its conclusions, the Working Group strongly notes that the Tokyo Two were denied the right to challenge their detention before an independent and impartial tribunal in fair proceedings, and requests that the remainder of the trial be conducted fairly.

Eradicating corruption and the waste of taxpayer money were among the core promises made by the new Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) when it was swept to power late last year, and the whale meat embezzlement scandal has shown that this industry is a prime example of the cleaning up the DPJ has to do. The loss-making whaling programme is subsidised by the government to the tune of US$5 million a year, and embezzlement of whale meat means lower income for the programme, and thus higher subsidies. This is in effect stealing from the public purse. However, instead of the criminals behind the embezzlement facing justice, Junichi and Toru are being tried in this highly political case.

The decision to engage in this political prosecution was made by the previous government in Japan. The new administration can remedy the shame of this damning opinion by ensuring that the trial will now be fair, adhering to international legal standards. This should include the admission of observers from other governments to the trial proceedings, as well as an official re-examination of the original embezzlement allegations. Only this would be a clear demonstration of the DPJ’s will to make true on its promises to crack down on corruption.

Since their initial arrest in June 2008, hundreds of thousands of people just like you have supported and joined this campaign, demanding justice for the Tokyo Two. Over the past year, you've supported this campaign by signing petitions and sending e-mails, and even told friends, family and colleagues about this campaign. Legal experts including Supreme Court advocates worldwide have expressed concern about the prosecution. International human rights and advocacy groups such as Amnesty International and Transparency International have questioned the legitimacy of the prosecution.

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