They exposed the whale-meat embezzlement scandal on May 15th,
when they presented a box of whale meat stolen by crew of Japan's
so-called "scientific whaling" fleet to the Tokyo Public
Prosecutor. A dossier documenting how the box was intercepted
during the four month long Greenpeace investigation was also
submitted to the Tokyo Public Prosecutor.
The scam, in which prime cuts of whale meat are smuggled off the
ship by crew members and sold outside official channels - for
personal profit, appears to have been running for years, with the
full awareness of the officials that conduct the whaling
"Instead of prosecuting peaceful protesters and
those who exposed crimes within the whaling programme, the
government of Japan should revoke all Southern Ocean whaling
permits, release the activists and order an immediate and
independent investigation into the embezzlement scandal."
Gerd Leipold, Executive Director, Greenpeace
However, it appears that powerful forces within Japan's
government don't want scrutiny of the whaling industry. On the day
the activists were arrested, the Public Prosecutor dropped the
investigation into the whaling industry, claiming there was
insufficient evidence to pursue charges against any of the crew or
Also, on the day the activists were arrested, more than 40
police officers raided the offices of Greenpeace Japan - watched by
the media, who had been tipped off by the police - and spent ten
hours seizing cell phones, documents, and computers. Given that we
had already submitted a dossier detailing how the box was taken and
why, and promised our full support with any investigation, a simple
phone call would have been enough to bring Junichi and Toru to the
"From the beginning it has been clear that the arrest and
detention of the Junichi and Toru has been politically motivated,
and that powerful forces within the Japanese establishment are
attempting to silence legitimate peaceful protest, in order to
protect the so-called scientific whaling programme," said Gerd
Leipold, Greenpeace International Executive Director.
"We have exposed a scandal at the heart of the whaling
programme, involving embezzlement of valuable cuts of whale meat,
and we have highlighted the massive waste of Japanese taxpayers'
money on the annual so-called scientific hunt in the Southern Ocean
Whale Sanctuary," he continued.
"Instead of prosecuting peaceful protesters and those who
exposed crimes within the whaling programme, the government of
Japan should revoke all Southern Ocean whaling permits, release the
activists and order an immediate and independent investigation into
the embezzlement scandal."
There's been massive global reaction to the arrest of Junichi
and Toru. Some 30 environmental and human rights organizations have
either put their names to an NGO (Non-Governmental Organsiation)
statement of protest, or sent letters of support, including Amnesty
International, the Lawyers Network for Human Rights Observation,
International Fund for Animal Welfare, InArticle 19, Transparency
International, Oceana, Ubuntu, and Oxfam. A network of Japanese
lawyers has called the arrests a "violation of human rights", and
"a challenge to the freedom of expression in Japan".
Almost quarter of a million of you have sent letters to the
Japanese Government calling for the release of Junichi and Toru and
demanding a full investigation into the whale meat embezzlement
scandal. Protests have been held outside Japanese embassies and
consulates in 35 cities across 30 countries.
We're still working hard to get Junichi and Toru out of
detention, so if you haven't written to the Japanese government
yet, please do so!
Our four-month undercover investigation revealed evidence of an
embezzlement ring involving crew members on board the Nisshin Maru,
who were openly taking the best cuts of whale meat during the
so-called scientific hunt, smuggling it ashore disguised as
personal luggage and then passing it to traders for illegal sales
and personal profit.
Working from information given by former and current Kyodo
Senpaku employees, we documented the off-loading of smuggled whale
meat into a special truck, in full view of Kyodo Senpaku officials
and crew members when the Nisshin Maru docked on April 15th, this
The consignment was documented by our team once it left the ship
and tracked to a depot in Tokyo. One of four boxes destined for the
same private address was then intercepted in order to verify the
contents and establish the fraud.
The consignment notes claimed the box contained "cardboard" but
in reality it held 23.5kg of salted 'prime' whale meat, worth up to
US$3,000. One informer told Greenpeace that dozens of crew take as
many as 20 boxes each. One crewmember was overheard to claim he
had built a house on the proceeds from his whale-meat sales over