On Thursday after a full day of discussions, disagreements and minimal deliberation in the plenary session of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Agadir, Morocco, NGOs have been given the opportunity to address the attending delegations.
Tokyo Two defendant Junichi Sato was given one of the few spots available, and after presenting to the commissioners and a stony-faced Japanese delegation., He was rewarded with a round of applause, many handshakes and a hug from Greenpeace alumni Paul Spong.
He presented in Japanese, but here is his speech in English:
Thank you Mr Chairman.
My name is Junichi Sato. I work for Greenpeace in Japan.
This year is the International Year of Biodiversity. There will be the conference of the parties of the Convention of Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, and this is an important year for the protection of biodiversity.
This IWC meeting was the chance for the Japanese government to show the leadership as the host of the Conference of parties of the CBD, to regain international trust by announcing a breakthrough for the protection of the whales, and committing to a decision to keep marine diversity as an important agenda item for Japan. However, in the past six months alone, its controversial decision regarding bluefin tuna in the CITES meeting, and this IWC meeting, has shown that Japan is losing its credibility. While Japan says that biodiversity is an important issue, it is regrettable as a citizen of Japan to see how the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) is failing to address environmental issues due to restrictions of the bureaucratic system.
Japanese ex-commercial whaling companies have promised to not restart commercial whaling, the demand for whale meat is falling in Japan, Japanese taxpayers find it unacceptable to see their money used to continue whaling and keep the organisations conducting it alive only to host retired FAJ officials, and all that is received in return is severe criticism from the rest of the world.
As a citizen of Japan, I have another grave concern.
Many scandals and corruptions have been exposed in Japan's whaling programme and Japan has been accused of using its Fisheries Aid to secure votes in this organisation. I have also witnessed this corruption first hand, and exposed embezzlement of whale meat from the whaling programme. The precious part of the whale, the very best cuts of meat were given to not only to high-ranking crew members, but also to the inspector of the Fisheries Agency and researchers. There are testimonies that cancerous tumors were found on whales taken in the Southern oceans but not reported, and that large amounts of whale meat was simply thrown away from the Japanese whaling mother ship in the Southern Ocean.
It is not just Greenpeace which has pointed out this corruption. Ex-crew members who worked on board of the whaling vessels are the ones who bravely blew the whistle. They became informants despite being pro-whaling, because the corruption in the whaling programme was simply too terrible for them to ignore.
The Japanese government is making up every excuse not to investigate these cases. I must say that this is a clear backward movement from Japan’s aim of gaining international reliability. I also would like to request that the IWC investigate these corruption claims in order to carry out its responsibility as an international committee.
There are many members of the Japanese delegation in this room. I respect the hard work they do, but I simply wish they would make a great political decision -- to be a world leader of marine conservation by listening to the voices of others, and by considering our future generations.
Unfortunately, the delegation of Japan made a speech as if “listening to the public opinion” is a bad thing to do. I disagree. I believe pubic opinion is important. In this opportunity, I suggest the delegation of Japan opens up its press conference to foreign media and NGOs, and even include the NGOs like Greenpeace in its delegation to allow for a diversity of opinion.
Again, I hope that the IWC and every country in this organisation investigates the corruption accusations.
Junichi also spoke with the BBC’s environment correspondent Richard Black yesterday.
He is awaiting a verdict along with Toru Suzuki and facing a possible 18 months in jail.
TAKE ACTION! Write to Japan to support the Tokyo Two and an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean.