Greetings from Tokyo
by Allison Kole
March 2, 2010
March 2010 is quickly becoming a month where the future of whales worldwide could be decided. Will the International Whaling Commission working group put forth a proposal that will undercut the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, the most important international agreement on whales conservation? Will the Japanese government try to silence whale defenders trying to share with the public the true nature of “scientific whaling” in Japan?
I am in Tokyo now, lending a hand to Greenpeace Japan and the Tokyo Two team. Trial dates for this important phase are March 8th-March 12th where Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, who were arrested while uncovering a whale meat embezzlement scandal, will be heard in an Aomori courtroom. The last piece of key evidence in Junich and Toru’s embezzlement investigation was found in Aomori, a pro whaling community on the coast of Japan. I will be there next week and will give updates from the court proceedings and activities on twitter and through this blog on both the Greenpeace US an Greenpeace Japan site. To get up to speed, read the new dossier of evidence as well as an update regarding the human rights violations of Japan in this case.
In addition, Prof. Dirk Voorhoof, European Court of Human Rights expert, will speak in Tokyo and Aomori as well as give testimony in court. He argues that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Japan is a party to, Junichi and Toru were justified in their investigation tactics, and Japan’s reactions to their investigation are in violation of the ICCPR, an international agreement where Japan has pledged to uphold civil and political rights. As of last month, an official UN human rights working group drew a similar conclusion regarding the case of the T2. Now this opinion is being substantiated in academic circles, editorial boards, and the United Nations!
The United States should be supporting whale conservation on two fronts. First, through IWC delegates who should be calling for no whale killing under any political guise, not a watering down of the successful 1986 moratorium. Second, by urging Japan to uphold civil and political rights, give whale defenders Junichi and Toru a fair trial (disclosing all evidence), and cease efforts to repress the truth about whaling in Japan.
In the Greenpeace Japan office, we are preparing for the trial, including Junichi who is being strong and keeping a postive attitude inspite of the large challenges before him: an absurdly high conviction rate in Japan, a Japanese whaler whistleblower who has been scared away from court, and an international community not doing enough to save the whales, an issue he has risked so much for. Click on images below to take action!
"Today, I made two points clear to the judges and public audience. One this case is about exposing the corruption in the whaling industry. And second, this case is very important to Japanese civil society because citizens have the right to expose corruption in the government. Here, we are on trial, but in fact whaling itself is on trial."
Junichi Sato, February 15th to the Guardian UK