Greenpeace Southern Ocean Ship "Banned" from Japan

Press release - 27 March, 2007
The Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, which helped the fire-damaged Japanese whaling factory ship when it was disabled in the Southern Ocean, has been effectively banned from entry into Tokyo.

With the Esperanza less than a day's sailing from port, the All Japan Seamen's Union (AJSU) visited the Greenpeace ships agent and subsequently the agent formally withdrew services for the ship - preventing her from coming into port.

The AJSU has falsely accused Greenpeace - an international environmental organisation with a core principle of non-violence - of being a terrorist organisation and also of collaborating with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose ship collided with one of the whaling ships in the Southern Ocean last month.

"The AJSU is simply playing politics and using intimidation to shut down legitimate dialogue," said Sara Holden, of Greenpeace International, on board the Esperanza. "Greenpeace has brought its ship to Tokyo in an effort to open dialogue with the government and its whaling agencies. If they have nothing to hide then there is no reason not to let us in. But it is clearly in their interest to keep the public ignorant of what is really going on."

In a recent critique by an International Whaling Commission review panel of the Japanese government's so-called " scientific" whaling programme, the scientists concluded that the whaling programme, which has run for 18 years and hunted nearly 7,000 whales,  did not reach any of its key objectives, including establishing populations figures and mortality rates.

A recent opinion poll showed that 92% of Japanese people do not know the scale of the government hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Of those that do, more than two-thirds do not support the hunt.

VVPR info: On Board the Esperanza: Sara Holden, Greenpeace International Communications: + 872 324 469 014(satellite phone)In Tokyo, please contact: Keiko Shirokawa, Greenpeace Japan Communications: +81 90 3470 7884Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Campaign Coordinator: +81 80 5088 2990

Exp. contact date: 2007-04-24 00:00:00