Putting whaling on trial: co-defendants worldwide admit to crime of opposing whaling

Page - July 3, 2009
Thousands of ordinary people would stand as co-defendants with two activists who exposed a whale-meat scandal rather than see Japan's whaling programme continue in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Help us show the government of Japan just how many people they'll need to arrest, if opposing whaling is a crime.




A "living statue" of Lady Justice protests in front of the Japanese embassy in The Hague, Netherlands

Two Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki are currently on bail and awaiting trial in Japan for their role in discovering that prime cuts of whale meat were being smuggled from the whaling ship Nisshin Maru to crew members for their personal gain, one box alone being valued at US $3,000.

We believe whaling should be on trial, not these two peacefulprotesters, who were doing legitimate, investigative work to protect endangered andvulnerable species.

You can symbolically show the Japanese government that Junichi and Toru are no more guilty than the thousands who would sign a petition, make a banner, send a letter or donate to Greenpeace to end whaling in the Southern Ocean.

Our message during the whale hunt in 2008-2009 is: '"If opposing whaling is a crime, arrest me!" 

Read the timeline of the scandal 

Greenpeace Whale-defenders

Greenpeace and a number of human rights organisations like Amnesty International and Humane Society International see this as a political arrest. We think that Japan should be investigating the embezzlement, and the whole illegal whaling operation, not those trying to draw attention to it.

On December 9, 2008 a group of executive directors from seven Greenpeace national offices  put their reputation where their beliefs are, to deliver their requests to Prime Minister Aso of Japan. They demanded that Japan re-open the investigation of the whale meat scandal and of whaling itself, and they put themselves forwards as "co-defendants" with the Tokyo Two -- and as representatives of the supporters in their countries who are standing in solidarity as co-defendants as well.

Joining them was Australia's last whaling captain -- Paddy Hart, who 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 in Japan to tell people that there's life after whaling. If whaling stops in Japan, the whalers will find other work - just like we had to," said Hart. "

"I am asking for an end to whaling and that the Japanese government fund alternative ventures for the whalers, instead of spending and losing money to produce food that people don't even like any more. There's more money to be made from whale watching than killing whales.  Also, speaking from experience as a whale gunner there's no humane way to kill a whale."

Read the biographies of the group members

Read the statement of concern


Join the co-defendants in your home country

Greenpeace organised activities in 15 countries to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th.  Thanks to everyone who showed up to show their support.

If you missed the chance to participate in an embassy action, you can participate in our "Virtual March," which we will continue to run all the way up to the trial.  Just download Junichi/Toru masks here which you can print on cardboard and wear.  Send a photo of yourself as a co-defendant -- perhaps taken in front of a Japanese embassy or some suitably Japanese location -- and email it to our Flickr account here:  

Locations of Japanese embassies and consulates

Opposed to whaling? We're all Junichi & Toru.  Download and print a mask

Download Toru Mask

Download Junichi Mask

We also have a letter that you can download and adapt, to deliver to the Japanese embassy or consulate nearest you. Peaceful protest is not a crime - we do not expect you to get arrested for making a polite and respectful request at a Japanese embassy!  But please do keep it polite and respectful: the embassy staff are not our opponents.   

Let's show Japan just how many handcuffs it will take to lock up all of us who oppose whaling.  

Download letter template