Apparently under some pressure, our agent there has decided she can't represent us. And without an agent it is all but impossible for us to take the ship into port. So we're not being officially blocked by the government, but are being kept out none the less.
Background - Our ship, the Esperanza, was more than 500 miles from the whaling fleet when a fire broke out on board their factory ship. But we responded at full speed to their location and rendered what aid we could. After 10 days without engines, they managed to get underway again.
From our press release:
With the Esperanza less than a day's sailing from port, the All Japan Seamen's Union (AJSU) visited the Greenpeace ship's agent and subsequently the agent formally withdrew services for the ship - preventing her from coming into port.
"The AJSU is simply playing politics and using intimidation to shut down legitimate dialogue," said Sara Holden, of Greenpeace International, on board the Esperanza. "Greenpeace has brought its ship to Tokyo in an effort to open dialogue with the government and its whaling agencies. If they have nothing to hide then there is no reason not to let us in. But it is clearly in their interest to keep the public ignorant of what is really going on."
A recent opinion poll showed that 92 percent of Japanese people do not know the scale of their government's hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Of those that do, more than two-thirds do not support the hunt. Could this be why they don't want us talking to the Japanese people about whaling? I suspect so.
Reuters story here.