Page - March 11, 2010
The story of the Tokyo Two began in January 2008. The embezzlement of whale meat at Japanese taxpayer's expense which we exposed has yet to be investigated. The activists who exposed the scandal, on the other hand, have been hounded by a justice system that doesn't recognize the role of peaceful civil disobedience in a civil society.

January 2008:  Greenpeace is contacted by a former whaling fleet crew member, telling them that crew members of the Japanese whaling fleet regularly take whale meat off the ships and sell it for their own profit.  The investigation into these allegations begins.

15 April:  The factory ship Nisshin Maru docks in Tokyo Harbour after its five-month whaling voyage to the Southern Ocean and crew send at least 93 boxes of "personal baggage" with a variety of labels such as "cardboard" or "salted stuff" and addressed to the private homes of crewmembers are offloaded.

16 April:  Greenpeace activists track one of the consignments to a depot in Aomori Prefecture. Junichi and Toru remove one of the boxes to verify its contents, which turn out to be not cardboard, but 23.5 kg of prime whale meat cuts, worth between 100,000 yen (US$1,000) and 300,000 yen (US$3,000).

15 May:  Concluding the four-month undercover investigation, Greenpeace Japan holds a press conference in Tokyo, exposing the full details of the whale meat embezzlement scandal.  As evidence, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki display the box of stolen whale meat that they intercepted, and then deliver it to the Public Prosecutor in Tokyo, along with a full dossier detailing the investigation, including details of the suspected crewmembers.

16 May:  Greenpeace hears from the media that the transportation company, Seino, has just reported a missing box to the Police - a month after it was intercepted.

20 May:  The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office confirms that there will be an investigation into the whale meat scandal.

27 May:  Junichi and Toru send detailed statements of what they did and why they did it to the Aomori Police.

20 June:  In the early hours of the morning, the Aomori District Public Prosecutors' Office arrests Junichi and Toru in their homes, and they are later transferred to Aomori. A request to hold them in Tokyo is denied.  Junichi and Toru are held in police detention in Aomori.

Meanwhile in Tokyo, over 40 police raid the Greenpeace Japan office - taking mobile phones, documents and computers. Homes of five staff members are also raided.

The same day the Tokyo Public Prosecutor suddenly announces that he has dropped his investigation into the whale meat scandal.

22 June:  Junichi and Toru are told they will be held for another 10 days without charge or chance for bail. (Under Japanese law, they can be held for up to 23 days without charge.)

30 June:  Peaceful protests are held at Japanese embassies around the world in support of Junichi and Toru's release and calling for a full investigation into the whale meat scandal.

1 July:  Junichi and Toru are told they will be held for a further 10 days without charge.

10 July:  A joint statement of concern is released by 35 international non-governmental organizations.

11 July:  Junichi and Toru are charged with trespass and theft, and remain in custody.

14 July:  Amnesty International expresses its  "deep concern" to the Japanese Prime Minister at the detention of Junichi and Toru qualifying the Japanese government's conduct as an attempt to intimidate activists and NGO's. A quarter of a million people have emailed the Prime Minister, asking for release of the Tokyo Two.

15 July:  Junichi and Toru are granted bail by an Aomori judge. The prosecutor immediately appeals the decision, but his appeal is turned down. After 26 days in police detention Junichi and Toru are finally released, but still face criminal prosecution.

Over 252,000 people around the world sent messages of support while Junichi and Toru were detained.

4 November: We announced plans to put whaling on trial in Japan with a massive worldwide mobilisation, and move our entire campaign focus to Japan. As a consequence, we will not be sending a ship to the Southern Ocean this year.

9 December 2008: Representatives of millions of Greenpeace supporters, acting as 'co-defendants' arrived at the Japanese Prime Minister's office in Tokyo to demand an end to the political persecution of Junichi and Toru and to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The group declared themselves 'co-defendants' -  activists from around the world joined them in solidarity.

13 February 2009: The Tokyo Two have their first day in court, at the initial pre-trial hearing in the city of Aomori, where Greenpeace Japan recently opened a Communications Centre. The public court case is expected to begin in May 2009.

March 19th 2009:Greenpeace lodges an appeal against Japanese government censorship, calling on the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) to release uncensored documentation of whale meat sales.

Previously we obtained these documents through a 2008 Freedom of Information request but the FAJ had blacked out large sections so that almost every line was obscured. Read Japan's Stolen Whale Meat Part 2: The Cover Up...

March 23rd 2009: Three independent, international experts have submitted key testimonies to the Japanese court, with human rights expert, Prof. Dirk Voorhoof, saying that sanctioning the Tokyo Two could have "a serious chilling effect on others who report on embezzlement or other wrongdoing", and that a criminal conviction of the two would amount toa "violation of the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be properly informed about the whale meat embezzlement in Japan."

Read the testimonies from: Professor Voorhoof - media law and journalism ethics, Professor Rothwell - international law and Professor Schabas - human rights and law

April 10-16 2009:Following relaxation of some bail restrictions, Junichi and Toru are allowed to go back to work in the Greenpeace Japan office - just not at the same time. They are still not allowed to associate with each other. Read Junichi's blog here and Toru's blog here.

April 14th 2009: Shrouded in the early morning gloom, the Japanese whaling fleet factoryship, Nisshin Maru, crept back into port without the usual fanfare.

May 15th 2009: A court in Aomori, Japan, has delivered a series of setbacks to theprosecution and the Japanese government's attempts tocover up an embezzlement scandal within the whaling industry. The court ruled that evidence of the embezzlement scandalcannot be exclude and that the issue of whether or not Junichi andToru's actions are protected under the International Covenant on Civiland Political Rights can and will be discussed during the trial.

February 8th 2010: As the Tokyo Two prepared to take the stand and have their day, ormore in court - the violation of their human rights was confirmedby a UN Humans Rights Council working group.

February 15th 2010: The first day of the Tokyo Two trial begins and the prosecution immediately starts to struggle.

March 8th 2010: The trial continued as a former whaler took to the standand cast serious doubts on on the official investigationinto our allegations of embezzlement within Japan'swhaling industry.

March 9th 2010:  A former whaler detailed the scale ofcorruption that he witnessed during his time with the whaling fleet.

March 10th: Junichi and Toru, spent two very long andintense days in court, defending the honourable actions they took toexpose the corruption within Japan's whaling industry. As theprosecution fumbled its desperate attempt to cast the 'Tokyo Two' ascriminals, it became obvious that whaling really is on trial in Aomori. 

The trial continues...

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