A "living statue" of Lady justice protests on behalf of Greenpeace in front of the Japanese embassy in The Hague, Netherlands.
The co-defendants include the chief whale-defenders (officially, Executive Directors) of Greenpeace offices from Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Brazil, USA, and the Nordic countries, as well as Australian ex-whaling captain Paddy Hart.
Condemned by Amnesty International
Marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the group declared themselves 'co-defendants' in the trial of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki. The two Greenpeace activists exposed corruption in the taxpayer-funded whaling industry, but were themselves arrested in a crackdown on Greenpeace itself in Tokyo.
A quarter of a million Greenpeace supporters wrote to the Prime Minister to demand their release. The arrest was denounced by Amnesty International, and fits a pattern of repression of the rights of free speech in Japan which has been condemned by the United Nations.
The group challenged the Prime Minister to set Junichi and Toru free, and end the corrupt whaling program, or order their own arrest for daring to oppose the whaling program. 30,000 people have also signed petitions declaring themselves complicit in Junichi and Toru's actions, and stated that if defending whales is a crime, they, too, are guilty.
Whaling on trial
"We want Prime Minister Aso to know that if Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki are to be tried for exposing whale meat embezzlement and working to end the killing of whales in the Japanese Government's 'research' program in the Southern Ocean, then we should all be arrested," said Jun Hoshikawa, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan. "It's not Greenpeace activists who should be put on trial; it is the government-backed whaling program in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."
Following a Greenpeace undercover investigation in May 2008 that exposed the embezzlement of whale meat from the taxpayer-funded whaling fleet, Japanese authorities responded with a politically-motivated prosecution, arresting Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki and raiding the Greenpeace Japan office in June 2008. They have now been awaiting trial for 172 days under bail conditions which prevent them from continuing their Greenpeace campaign work to end whaling.
The trial is expected to begin early next year; they are both facing up to 10 years imprisonment.
Meanwhile, events have been happening already -- and will continue throughout today and tomorrow -- at Japanese embassies in Brazil, the United States, New Zealand, Argentina, France, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Canada, Italy and on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. Activists will themselves as 'co-defendants', by asking the Japanese government to "Arrest Me, Too" and to put "Whaling on Trial".
Greenpeace Executive Directors, and Paddy Hart, ex-whaler, in Tokyo.
Proof of life after whaling
Australian ex-whaling captain Paddy Hart, in Tokyo to support the Tokyo Two and the campaign to end Japan's whaling, was a master and gunner at the Cheynes Beach Whaling Station in Western Australia until it ceased operation in 1978 - following Greenpeace protests.
"I'm here to assure whalers that there is life after whaling. Japan's whaling program is a taxpayer-funded government enterprise, so when it finally ends, it's the responsibility of the Japanese government and the Fisheries Agency to retrain the crews for other, sustainable, work."
"In Australia alone, 300 million Australian dollars are made every year from whalewatching - hundreds of times more than was ever made by the whaling industry", said Hart. "I am proud of my time at sea, but it was 30 years ago. Times have changed, and the world has moved on - whaling no longer has a place in the world."
Guilty, too? Demand your own arrest!
If you have ever done anything to oppose Japanese whaling, you're probably guilty in the eyes of the Japanese government of the same crime as Junichi and Toru. 'Fess up. Sign the petition.