June 10, 2010
On World Oceans Day Greenpeace held a march and rally in Vancouver to bring attention to political trial of two of our activists in Japan who exposed corruption and embezzlement in Japan’s whaling programme. Among those attending were Rex Weyler, one of the original Greenpeace founders, and Barbara Stowe, who is the daughter of Irving and Dorothy Stowe-also Greenpeace founders- and who in recent years was instrumental in putting together a cd of the concert that raised funds for the original Amchitka Voyage back in 1971.
As fellow activists and I marched along the ocean towards English bay, banners were held with pictures displaying the faces of the two activists-Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki- as well as signs with slogans such as “Defending Whales is Not a Crime” and “Freedom for the Tokyo Two.” We were greeted at the beach by media and as a crowd gathered, Sarah King, the oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Canada, began by reading a letter written by Junichi himself.
Barbara Stowe spoke soon after, highlighting the many layers of corruption involved the persecution of the Tokyo Two and emphasizing that this was little more than a political persecution, that these activists are facing jail time for simply acting as whistle blowers and for defending whales who are being hunted in an international whale sanctuary. Along with many important issues, she also spoke of the hard times in Japan following WWII and how the Japanese survived off whale meat and frequently served it throughout school cafeterias. “Now,” she said, quoting Jun Morikawa’s book Whaling in Japan, “the Japanese are in the position to return the favour; the whale saved us then – now we can save the whale.”
Rex Weyler also added an interesting piece regarding the importance of civil disobedience, abroad in Japan but also right here in Vancouver. He reminded us how English Bay, the very spot the rally was taking place, was originally destined to become a Highway, but only through peaceful civil disobedience and standing in front of bulldozers was the project put to an end; “That’s why we have this beach. Because citizens did the right thing and stood up for what’s right.” Standing in solidarity with the Tokyo Two, Rex emphasized how all the rights we enjoy, whether they be civil, environmental or women’s rights, are all because somewhere in history, somebody stood up and said no – we are going to change the world.”