Greenpeace: Japan government should expose the truth about corrupt whaling industry

Feature story - March 19, 2009
Greenpeace activists peacefully picketed in front of the Japanese Embassies in Manila and Bangkok to demand fair trial for two Japanese environmentalists who were arrested for exposing large scale corruption within the Japanese government-sponsored whaling program.

Wearing face masks of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki alongside a 'statue' of Lady Justice, the activists were demanding a fair trial for the Japanese environmentalists after they have exposed large scale corruption within the Japanese government-sponsored whaling program.

Wearing face masks of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, known as the 'Tokyo Two,' the activists in Manila  displayed an oversized scroll with the words: "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" beside a 'statue' of Lady Justice.

In Bangkok  Greenpeace volunteers in prisoner costumes and masks of Junichi and Toru,  held banners saying "Jailed for exposing truth about whaling".

The demonstrations  are part of simultaneous Greenpeace events at Japanese embassies around the world. The case of the Tokyo Two is not an ordinary prosecution as it raises critical human rights issues. In intercepting the box of embezzled whale meat, Sato and Suzuki exposed government wrongdoing.

"The case against Sato and Suzuki reverberates in civil societies around the world and is being watched closely for implications on freedom of expression and the right of citizens to expose vested interests and anomalies in affairs funded by taxpayers' money. We stand as co-defendants with Junichi and Toru. If exposing corruption is a crime then people around the world who fight corruption should likewise be guilty," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez, currently in Tokyo with four other Greenpeace representatives to stand as 'co-defendants' in exposing the truth about the whaling industry.

"Truth is the enemy of the corrupt. Junichi's and Toru's disclosure of the truth stood in the way of the brutal whaling industry. The Japanese government should see to it that justice is served against the corrupt whaling industry-not against those who exposed the embezzlement ring in the whaling industry," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Deputy Campaign Director Mark Dia.

Greenpeace is additionally demanding full disclosure of information on whale meat sales and contracts with Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), the agency in charge of the annual brutal whale hunt. On January 19 this year, the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ), following a Freedom of Information request from Greenpeace, released information on whale meat sales and contracts with the ICR. However, the documents were so heavily censored almost every line was redacted, rendering them worthless.

"This blacked-out document represents the level of darkness surrounding the government-funded whaling program," says Jun Hoshikawa, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director. "It is a symbol of how the Fisheries Agency bleaches its own promise of transparency and accountability."

"Truth is the enemy of the corrupt. Junichi's and Toru's disclosure of the truth stood in the way of the brutal whaling industry. The Japanese government should see to it that justice is served against the corrupt whaling industry-not against those who exposed the embezzlement ring in the whaling industry,"

Mark Dia

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Deputy Campaign Director

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Fair Hearing for the Tokyo Two: Protecting Freedom of Expression in Japan

The FAJ currently subsidizes the ICR's "scientific" whaling expeditions to the tune of ¥500 million (US$5 million) a year. Despite the fact Japanese taxpayers are footing the bill for this unprofitable enterprise, particularly at time of domestic and international economic crisis, the FAJ has decided to protect itself, at the expense of the public's right to know.

Co-signed by Shokichi Kina, an Upper House Diet member from the Democratic Party of Japan, the appeal for transparency comes as Sato and Suzuki prepare for the next stage of their trial in Aomori, Japan. The 'Tokyo Two' are already suffering unnecessarily from the arrest. Censoring information does nothing but further weaken the ability of concerned citizens, like Sato and Suzuki, to investigate problems in the society in which they live.

Note: The complete list of co-defendants are: 1) Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and recipient of the prestigious Goldman Prize, 2) Divya Raghuna - Campaign Director of Greenpeace India, 3) Richard J Harvey, International Barrister and expert on criminal and Human Rights law:http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/barristers/richard_harvey.cfm, 4) Sarah Burton, Greenpeace International Deputy Program Director and Former Campaign Program Director of Amnesty International, 5) Jun Hoshikawa, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director.

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