Tokyo, 18 February 2011- Greenpeace is demanding that Japan’s government finally end its commercial whaling programme and re-open an investigation into corruption scandals inside the industry, following today’s announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that it has recalled its Antarctic whaling fleet from the Southern Ocean, marking the fleet’s shortest ever season .
“This historic announcement confirms what we all know: that Japan’s whaling serves no purpose whatsoever and the fleet has no business in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” said Junichi Sato, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan. “All the whaling programme has produced is a stockpile of thousands of tonnes of frozen whale meat, the waste of billions of Japanese taxpayer’s yen, and a culture of corruption and scandal. An early return of the whaling fleet is not enough – Japan’s whaling ships should never leave port again.”
Polls show that over 70% of Japanese people do not support distant water hunting of whales far from Japan  Greenpeace has been working to expose the corruption that has helped sustain its commercial whaling program, conducted under the guise of scientific research for years. Two Greenpeace activists- Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki- were recently found guilty after having exposed a whale-meat embezzlement scandal and work continues in Japan to shine a light on this senseless hunt to the Japanese public, whose tax dollars subsidize the hunt for whales in an internationally-recognized whale sanctuary. Sato and Suzuki are appealing the guilty verdict entered against them in the whale meat embezzlement case.
The Fisheries Agency of Japan recently admitted that five of its officials, who sailed with the whaling fleet to oversee its activities, had accepted expensive gifts of whale meat from the fleet’s operators.
“The Japanese public doesn’t want to be force-fed whale meat or be forced to bankroll a corrupt and dying industry,” added Sato. “Greenpeace is urging the Japanese government to not only investigate the whale meat scandal we exposed three years ago, but also start taking real action towards protection of the world’s oceans”.
Greenpeace is opposed to all commercial whaling in all of the world's oceans and is working to end whaling in Japan by raising public awareness of the whaling industry's corruption. Sato and Suzuki are appealing the guilty verdict entered against them in the whale meat embezzlement case.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. This season’s whale hunt, which started in early December, has been the industry’s shortest: the fleet is usually at sea from November until April
2. A poll was commissioned by Greenpeace Japan in 2008, prepared by Nippon Research Center Ltd. (part of the Gallup International Association) and can be found at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/japanpoll