INVESTIGATION ORDERED INTO GREENPEACE CLAIMS OF STOLEN JAPANESE WHALE MEAT

Media release - May 20, 2008
The Tokyo district Public Prosecutor has confirmed that there will be an investigation into allegations made by Greenpeace of large-scale embezzlement of whale meat from the Japanese government-subsidized Southern Ocean whaling program.

On May 15th, Greenpeace campaigners produced as partial evidence of the corruption, 51.7 pounds of whale meat that had been hidden in one of four boxes sent by a crew member to his home and disguised as personal effects. A four-month investigation by Greenpeace also highlighted claims by informers that government-appointed officials from the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) and the whaling fleet operators, Kyodo Senpaku, are aware of the theft. Furthermore, local pubs and meat traders expected to receive whale meat direct from the factory ship Nisshin Maru well in advance of the official government release of stocks at the end of June.

The ongoing Japanese government-backed scientific whaling program, in the internationally recognized Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, has been continually mired in controversy, lies and scandal, bringing Japan into international disrepute. This latest scandal begs the question of just who profits from a whaling program, which generates no useful science and is commercially unsustainable.

"This revelation underscores the sham of Japan's 'scientific whaling.' In truth, it's all about making money. Thus we have a renewed moral obligation to end the brutal practice," said Phil Kline, Greenpeace U.S.A. Oceans Campaigner.

"We are delighted that the Public Prosecutor has begun this investigation and we will cooperate in every way possible to ensure that it is a full investigation, to the highest levels and not simply the scapegoating of a few individual crew members," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Campaign coordinator. "While the investigation is underway, the government has no option but to now immediately suspend any whaling permits to the ICR and Kyodo Senpaku, as well as stop the tax-payers subsidy to the program," Sato added.

Kyodo Senpaku officials have claimed that the meat is simply "souvenirs" given to the crew by the company at the end of the expedition. However, there is clear evidence-including false declarations on the whale meat box, where the contents where labeled as cardboard-that the stolen meat is taken in addition to the free packages handed out by the company.

Additional allegations from informers that require investigation include: discarding tons of whale meat daily due to a lack of processing capacity needed to accommodate increased harvest quotas; cancerous tumors cut out of whales with the remaining meat processed for public sale; and targeted hunts to ensure maximum catch, not random "sampling" as required by the research permits.

VVPR info: Mike Crocker, Press Officer, Greenpeace U.S.A., Tel: 202-319-2471 Phil Kline, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace, U.S.A., Tel: 202-319-2402

Notes: The "Stolen Japanese Whale Meat Scandal" dossier is available to download in English and Japanese at: http://www.greenpeace.org/whale-meat-scandal

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