Mal Wren and the team in Aomori
Mal Wren and the team in Aomori
Thanks for the messages of support following my update from last week…it is much appreciated. I pointed them out to my Greenpeace colleagues here in Aomori, and they were grateful as well. Knowing there is such solidarity out there gives the team a boost - sometimes it can feel like a little lonely and daunting working in an area where there is so much misunderstanding of what the organisation does and why. And particularly when those misunderstandings are of you as an individual – doubts over your actions and your motives, even thoughts of you as terrorist. Not nice.

It doesn’t take long having met the team here to understand they are committed and talented people, whose motivations are entirely about a healthy and sustainable environment. That’s what people in Aomori are discovering as the work of the communications centre unfolds.

Prejudices break down pretty quickly when they have a chance to meet and talk with the staff. Terrorist? Yeah Right, as beer drinkers in NZ might say.. The situation was summed nicely by the head of a local fishermans union here at our opening – “..i used to be wary of Greenpeace, and then I met Waka and realised we share the same goals and motivations – protecting fish for the future..”. Spare a thought for the guys known as the “Tokyo Two”. Their trial, for exposing a whale-meat embezzlement scandal, will be held here in Aomori in a few months and will occur in the context of such misunderstanding. For many at Greenpeace, "the Tokyo Two" is not just a catch phrase – the two are Junichi and Toru, colleagues and good friends.

They are facing a very possible ten years in jail. Current bail conditions mean they can’t communicate with each other, or with friends and colleagues at Greenpeace and the pressure puts an obvious strain on their family life. So support like we have seen from Greenpeace activists and supporters around the world over the past week during their pre-trial has extra meaning.

Not only does it put pressure on the Japanese Government and remind it the world is watching, it sends a message to Junichi and Toru that there are millions around the world supporting them. They both remain committed to winning the Southern Ocean whaling campaign, even in the face of the possible consequences – knowing that they're not alone is an enormous thing.

I am struck by the commitment and strength of Junichi and Toru, and by their colleagues sticking by them, and I feel lucky to stand beside them and Greenpeace supporters from all over the world.

Gambarou! (a Japanese word that is difficult to translate directly, it’s more of a concept - ‘lets work together and do even more!’)

Mal in Aomori (where the snow has returned big time!)