Activists conduct peaceful protests at Japanese embassies around the world.
Junichi and Toru have been under arrest since the 20th of June,
held without charge. On Tuesday, July 1st, a hearing will be held
on whether they will be detained for a further ten days without
UPDATE July 1, 2008:
The court has ruled Junichi and Toru will spend the maximum time
in custody without charge permissible under Japanese law - 23
In a message to supporters, sent via their lawyers, Junichi and
Toru welcomed the outporing of efforts from people all over the
world, adding: "We still need your help. We have been ordered to
remain in custody for ten more days without charge. Please
encourage your friends to send an email to the
Japanese government, if they have not already. Keep watching
for news from Greenpeace of more actions you can take and make sure
that the global demand to investigate the whale meat scandal we
exposed is heard loud and clear here in Japan."
Junichi and Toru exposed a whale-meat embezzlement scandal on
May 15th by presenting a box of whale meat stolen by crew of
Japan's so-called "scientific whaling" fleet, to the Tokyo Public
Prosecutor along with a dossier documenting how they obtained it.
The scam, in which prime cuts of whale meat are smuggled off the
ship by crewmembers and sold outside official channels, appears to
have been running for years with the full awareness of the
officials that conduct the whaling expeditions.
The Japanese whaling programme is funded by taxpayers, at a cost
of 500 million yen a year (4.7 million)
The Prosecutor's office took up an investigation, but concluded
there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges against any of
the crew or whaling officials. The only consequences in the case
were for the Greenpeace activists, who intercepted a box of meat as
evidence, and were arrested in dramatic raids on their homes and
offices, conducted by around 40 police officers in front of
television cameras. The police seized documents, computers, cell
phones, and the Greenpeace Japan supporter list.
"The response by the Japanese authorities can only
be described as
excessive, unjust and politically motivated...Rather than trying
to silence those who point out corruption, the police should be
investigating the government officials, whaling fleet operators and
staff who smuggle whale meat from the so-called scientific
programme funded by Japanese taxpayers and sell it for profit. This
and the ongoingwhaling operation in the Southern Ocean Whale
Sanctuary is where the forces of justice should be focussed."
Gerd Leipold, Executive Director, Greenpeace
Other voices in Japan are saying that the arrest was a warning
to other activist groups that as the G8 approaches, voices of
dissent in Japan will not be tolerated.
While he disagrees with
Greenpeace's anti-whaling stance, journalist Takao Saito said the
way the police arrested the two men and the way they investigated
the group was heavy-handed.
"(Greenpeace) is functioning as a
whistleblower in our society so the authorities should give them a
fair hearing to what they have to say."
WATCH, a network of laywers keeping an eye on human rights in
Japan in the run up to the G8, issued a
"The arrest of the two activists is
not only a human rights violation with regard to the unjustifiable
arrest, detention and investigation, but also a challenge against
the freedom of expression. Police repression against the activists'
denunciation obstructs the legitimate activities of both Japanese
civil society and international society and is therefore
internationally unacceptable and subject to global criticism as an
affront to humanity."
Greenpeace supporters have launched protests from Budapest to
Sydney, Sao Paolo to Jakarta, Athens to Washington, and points in