Tokyo, Japan. Despite yet another day of compelling evidence of major corruption in the Japanese government whaling programme, Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, known as the Tokyo Two, have been warned by their lawyers that they still run a serious risk of a custodial sentence.
On the final day of witness testimony, two whalers at the heart of the
whale meat embezzlement scandal, exposed by Sato and Suzuki,
consistently contradicted themselves, each other, their own police
statements, the prosecutor’s claims, and the official statements from
“Our investigation set out to prove that there is routine embezzlement
from the taxpayer-funded whaling programme and our defence that this
investigation was in the public interest has been proven,” said
Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Programme Director. “It is deeply
worrying that despite overwhelming evidence showing that we should be
acquitted, we are being told that there is a growing chance that we
will be sent to jail.”
Evidence given by the whalers today revealed that whale meat was being
illegally taken, not only by crew, but also by officials. In addition
the whalers testified that meat was even delivered to the Fisheries
Agency of Japan (FAJ) – which is responsible for deciding on the
future of the whaling programme, and the politically influential
Whaling Association – a group with close ties to Kyodo Senpaku, which
operates the whaling fleet, management and pro-whaling politicians.
“Through the course of this trial we have consistently proven that we
acted in the public interest, which is protected under international
law,” said Toru Suzuki, Greenpeace Japan. “The United Nations Human
Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was clear in its
opinion(1) that neither Junichi or I should have been detained and
that our prosecution is political. We trust that the court will take
this into account, and acquit us.”
Closing arguments will be heard on June 8th, 2010.
Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that
acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the
environment, and to promote peace.
Greg McNevin - Greenpeace International Communications, +81 (0) 80
Kyoko Murakami - Greenpeace Japan Communications, +81 (0) 3 5338 9816,
Sara Holden – Tokyo Two Campaign Coordinator, + 31 (0) 6 1500 7406,
1) In March 2009, Amnesty International lodged a complaint about the
treatment of Sato and Suzuki to the United Nations Human Rights
Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary detention. The Working Group
asked the Japanese government to explain its actions, however, the
authorities limited their response to explaining Japan's criminal
justice system and claiming, without substantive explanation, that the
'source' was factually incorrect.
The Working Group did not concur, stating that the Japanese
authorities have breached articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and articles 18 and 19 of the ICCPR. It
also expressed concern that articles 2, 10 and 14 of the ICCPR,
relating to the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair
trial, have not been respected.
The full opinion can be found here:
In January 2008, Greenpeace began an investigation into insider
allegations that organised whale meat embezzlement was being conducted
by crew inside Japan's so-called ’scientific‘ whaling programme, which
is funded by Japanese taxpayers. The informer was previously involved
in the whaling programme, and following his advice Junichi Sato and
Toru Suzuki began an investigation, eventually discovering firm proof
that cardboard boxes containing whale meat were being secretly shipped
to the homes of whaling fleet crew - and then sold for personal
profit. Junichi delivered a box of this whale meat to the Tokyo
Prosecutors' Office in May 2008, and filed a report of embezzlement.
However, the embezzlement investigation was dropped on 20 June - the
same day that both men were arrested and then held for 26 days, 23 of
which were without charge. They are currently facing up to ten years
in prison for “theft” and “trespass”.