Reflections from Junichi Sato
by Michelle Frey
April 10, 2009
Junichi Sato is one of our oceans campaigners in Japan, now facing a maximum of 10 years in prison for exposing a crime at the heart of Japan’s whaling industry.
After nine months of disconnection from their colleagues and workplace, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki walked back into the Greenpeace Japan office last week like long-missed adventurers finally home.
Of course they did not come in on the same day, as while the bail conditions binding them have been relaxed enough for them to speak to their colleagues and come back to work, there are still a lot of kilometres left on their road, and they still cannot communicate directly with one another or be in the same place at the same time.
But they’re back, morale is up and we can all throw more energy into getting them justice, and ensuring there is justice for whales too.
Junichi would like to share some of his reflections on his first week back in the office.
“The Greenpeace Japan office is in a very busy part of Tokyo, called Shinjuku. I walked down to the office from one of the biggest stations, passing through the streets that I thought I would be very familiar with, but I was not. There are new buildings, stores and restaurants that all made me realise how long I have been away.
The last time I was here I left the office knowing that I was going to get arrested the next day. 10 months can change somebody’s life, but it can also change quite a bit of landscape.
There is a small Shinto Shrine next to the office called Naruko Tennjin where I came by before coming to the office hoping nothing changed there. Indeed, the only change I could find was that the cherry blossom was about to bloom. It was the perfect moment to come back to this place. The colour and shape of the cherry blossom has a power to make people smile and motivate.
Coming into the office, I realised there are so many pictures blooming on the walls of the office, showing people around the world taking action for us. They are my flowers that never fall from my memory. I am grateful to have a chance to say thank you to all the people who participated in these activities.
Now, being back to the office is not the victory of the campaign. It is surely a great step forward to achieve the end of Japanese "scientific" whaling, and also to realise true civil society where citizens can enjoy the rights of "freedom of expression." Today is the day I reboot the campaign in Japan with my great colleagues who stay strong for the great cause. I sincerely ask you all for your continued support, and I will keep you updated!”
And if you haven’t already taken action against this injustice – tell Japan they should arrest you too – for standing against the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and opposing the scandal and corruption of their whaling industry.