Activists are not criminals
by Kumi Naidoo
September 10, 2010
Over the course of their trial, Junichi and Toru produced substantial evidence of embezzlement within the decaying relic that is Japan’s whaling industry.
When I came to Japan in February for the start of this trial I was shocked that Junichi and Toru were even in court. What I saw in the Aomori court is deeply concerning.
The judges recognized that “murkiness” existed in the industry regarding the handling of whale meat, however, despite this and clear contradictions in the official version of events, the judges instead chose to deny citizens the right to investigate the misuse of public resources.
The judges ruled that the harm done to the reputation of the transportation company from whose depot Junichi and Toru seized the evidence of embezzlement outweighed the public interest served by the investigation, and found that enforcing Japan’s laws against theft and trespass in this case does not violate freedom of expression protected by treaties Japan has ratified. This runs in stark contrast with the opinion of a UN working group, which slammed the authorities for their handling of this case.
Junichi and Toru have been completely transparent, honest and consistent at all times during their investigation, arrest, interrogation and trial. In contrast the prosecution case against them has been marred by cover ups of critical documents, inconsistent and plain contradictory witness accounts.
Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International