Tokyo Two Trial

Guilty or not guilty?

Page - June 7, 2010
The court case against anti-whaling activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki - known as the 'Tokyo Two' - has been long and complicated, but the facts of the case are simple, and undisputed.

If you were on the jury - what would your verdict be?

Here's the case in short - with links to all the information and evidence you'll need to make your judgement.

1. Junichi and Toru spent several months investigating whistleblower allegations of embezzlement [trial footnote #1] in the whaling industry.

2.They found what they suspected to be hard evidence of this, and tracked this evidence to Aomori’s Seino Transport shipping depot.

3. Toru entered the depot, greeted and was greeted by staff, identified the evidence (a box of whale meat) and removed it so DNA samples of the meat, photos and video evidence could be taken before returning it.

4. Once they had it in their hand, they realised they had the so-called “smoking gun”, and resolved to hand the box of evidence over to the authorities instead, with a request for an official investigation.

5. An official investigation was started, but dropped on the basis of a short, unsubstantiated explanation from the whalers that they had investigated themselves and found themselves innocent [trial footnote #2].

6. Junichi and Toru were then arrested, held for 26 days (23 without charge), and eventually charged and put on trial for “theft” and “trespass”.

Prosecution argument:

A sketch of Junichi Sato, Tadano Yasushi (lawyer) and Toru Suzuki (left to right) in court

  • This is a simple case of theft in which the Tokyo Two planned to trespass and steal the box of meat.
  • Whether there was embezzlement or not is irrelevant, as they took another’s belongings.
  • Freedom of Expression and international human rights law is irrelevant, see above points.
  • Whistleblower evidence is irrelevant as he was not on the ship at the time, and his allegations are unsubstantiated.

Defence argument:

Essential action

There was no alternative way to bring the embezzlement information out into the open effectively.

  • This was a spontaneous act, with no intention for personal gain, thus is not theft under Japanese law.
  • The act and minor transgressions of the law were justified as they were to prevent or expose a comparatively greater crime.
  • Freedom of Expression applies as NGOs have a legitimate right to expose misappropriation of taxpayer money, and this was an necessary and appropriate step.
  • Gathering and imparting information in the manner Junichi and Toru did is a right protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Give us your verdict!

Guilty!         Not Guilty!

Still not sure? Find out what the witnesses have contributed to the trial.

Read more about the whale meat scandal and the conclusion of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council which found the Japanese authorities in breach of international human rights.

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