Footnotes on the Tokyo Two Trial

Background - 6 June, 2010
The following footnotes relate the Tokyo Two trial.

[1] According to the first whistleblower that came to Greenpeace, embezzlement of whale meat was conducted with the full knowledge of the onboard officials from the Institute of Cetacean Research and the government’s Fisheries Agency. The informant claimed that extra meat was often boxed up for government officials ashore. Precise details of how the embezzlement operation was carried out were given: the crew usually took ‘unesu’ – prime cuts taken from the throat of the whale - preserving them in salt in their cabins rather than freezing them with the remaining stock. The meat was then transported in boxes of personal belongings, which were always collected by the same courier company. When Greenpeace investigators documented the return of the whaling fleet in 2008, the process played out precisely as the informant had described it.

[2] Read the English version of the letter announcing that the official investigation had been dropped.

[3]  Kyodo Senpaku

A private company, Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd. is the result of several rounds of mergers and restructuring of Japan’s pelagic fishing companies. The 1987 IWC moratorium and subsequent contraction of the whaling industry saw a former armada of over 100 boats and 10,000 seafarers shrink to one factory ship - the Nisshin Maru - three catchers, eight ex-catchers and a staff of 321. Kyodo Senpaku now functions more as a charter operation, renting whaling vessels to only two clients: the ICR and the FAJ. It relies on the government for work.

Institute of Cetacean Research

The ICR was founded in 1987 as a ‘zaidan hojin’, a non-profit organisation, and exists primarily to conduct ‘research’ on Southern Hemisphere minke whales. Kyodo Senpaku provided around ¥1,250 million towards its start up costs, with members of the public providing the remaining ¥50 million. The FAJ also provided a ¥346.2 million fund to cover costs for the remainder of 1987. Since then, the ICR has been given a ¥500 million annual allocation from the FAJ as well as benefiting from the proceeds of the sale of meat ‘by-products’ of the Southern Ocean hunt.

Directors of the ICR have been successive retired officials from the FAJ.

Fisheries Agency of Japan

The FAJ is the government body responsible for licensing and monitoring the taking of fish and cetaceans in Japanese waters or by Japanese vessels. It is the major source of funds for research on cetaceans. The last six directors of the ICR are ex-FAJ officials. There is a strong incentive for the FAJ to defend and prop up whaling as its senior civil servants are often able to go into early retirement, receive significant bonuses, and take up plush jobs in ICR management. This practice is called ‘Amakudari’, which translates as ‘descent from heaven’ – or, as it is more commonly known, ‘golden parachute’. If the FAJ were to end whaling, ex-FAJ officials would lose their jobs and the current officials would lose the opportunity to take up these positions.

[4] As the whaling programme is a government funded project, this itself is evidence of corruption.

[5] Seino Transport is the company that ships the crews belongings. It is non-refrigerated and can only ship salted, preserved meat.

[6] In 2008, the Fisheries Agency of Japan ordered the Institute for Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku, the fleet operator, to conduct an internal inquiry into the Greenpeace allegations of embezzlement of whale meat. The inquiry officials claimed every crewmember had been interviewed in an exhaustive investigation and no evidence of corruption could be found. This whaler’s admission that he was not interviewed raises serious doubt as to the “thoroughness” of the investigation

[7] He told the court that their flesh is young and tender and good for making the best “unesu”, or whale bacon. He said that this is the meat that is given to crewmembers as “souvenirs”.

[8] Under questioning on February 15, Kyodo Senpaku’s Head of Sales said that the meat given away was not of high quality. “Unesu” (whale bacon) was the type intercepted by the Greenpeace activists during their investigation and given to the Tokyo District Prosecutor as evidence of embezzlement.

[9] A whaler for 40 years, this whistleblower was the second to come forward to Greenpeace, and corroborated the information given by the first. He was allowed to give evidence behind a screen to protect his identity from all but the judges and legal representatives, for fear of reprisal over his incriminating testimony.

[10] An independent international expert on freedom of expression, Prof. Dirk Voorhoof testified at the trial, arguing that Junichi and Toru’s actions were justified by greater public interest and that they should be acquitted of any crime as they were revealing detailed information of crimes involving taxpayer money.

[11] The FAJ is responsible for deciding on the future of the whaling programme.

[12] The Whaling Association has close ties to Kyodo Senpaku management and pro-whaling politicians

[13] The prosecutor asked the owner of the box whether he wanted the defendants to be punished. He replied “I want to say something to them.” The presiding judge then asked a leading question,: “You want them to be punished, and you want to complain to them?” To which the owner replied “Yes.”.