Greenpeace Calls for End to Cover-ups, Lies, and Southern Ocean Whaling

Press release - 14 April, 2009
Greenpeace today met the returning Japanese whaling fleet factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, with placardsreading "Southern Ocean Whaling: Cover-ups, lies, 1.2 billion yen in taxes". The environmental organisation also sought to document the offloading of the ships cargo of whale meat, the by-product of the so-called scientific hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, which is chopped and boxed on board the factory ship ready for market.

Last year, boxes of embezzled whale meat, some falsely labelled "cardboard", were offloaded and couriered to the homes of the ships crew. Whistleblowers told Greenpeace that this was standard practice, but the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ), the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) and Kyodo Senpaku (KS) publically denied it. It was only later that the three managed to get their stories straight and claimed that the boxes of prime whale meat were approved as "souvenirs".

It is now one year since Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki first exposed the embezzlement of whale meat from the fleet. They are still on trial and facing up to ten years in prison, yet nothing has been done to address the scandal and the real criminals behind the embezzlement.

The FAJ promised greater transparency, but in January it again covered up the truth by heavily censoring documents containing whale meat sales data, released to Greenpeace following a Freedom of Information request. The FAJ, ICR and KS also denied another request to allow a Greenpeace documentation crew to monitor the whale meat being offloaded from the fleet this year.

"With the whaling fleet's history of embezzlement, Greenpeace has requested that all whale meat offloaded be documented," said Junichi Sato of Greenpeace Japan. "If the "souvenir" practice has been legitimised, the public should at least be told how much of the 1.2 billion yen it has spent subsidising the so-called scientific whaling expedition has been spent on buying gifts for the crew."

At a time when Japan suffering its worst recession for a generation, the government's massive subsidisation of an unwanted, unneeded, and increasingly secretive programme is a slap in the face for Japanese taxpayers. That it is still punishing critics such as Sato and Suzuki adds insult to injury.

"With warehouse full to over flowing with whale meat from previous years hunts, which can't even be given away, this year's catch of 680 whales is still 680 too many,"(1) said Sato. "The writing is on the wall for this economically and ecologically bankrupt practice. This must be the last of these so-called "scientific" whaling expeditions."

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

Other contacts: Greg McNevin - Greenpeace International Communications, +81 (0)80 5416 6506, yoko Murakami - Greenpeace Japan Communications, +81 (0)80 5008 3048, hotos and video of the fleet arrival are available. Please contact:Greenpeace International video, Amsterdam: +31 (0) 646162015Greenpeace International picture desk, Amsterdam: +31 (0)20 718 2470

Notes: 1) Fisheries Agency of Japan Press Release 13th April, 2009 Japan's stolen whale meat scandal, Part 2: The cover up: available from: /international/Global/international/planet-2/binaries/2009/3/the-cover-up.pdf3) Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were arrested on June 20th, 2008, and spent 26 days in custody before being charged. The case against them is still before the court, and the next pre-trial date is currently set for May 15.