T2: Looking forward
by Allison Kole
June 23, 2009
Greenpeace Communications Center, Aomori, Japan:
The defense expert witness Prof. Dirk Voorhoof has just left Japan after a whirlwind of press interviews, speaking events, and on Monday, a reception with Greenpeace Japan, Amnesty International Japan, ASEED and others commemorating the 20th anniversary of Japan ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This agreement is the basis for Vorhoof’s opinon and the international human rights argument for Junichi and Toru’s innocence. By uncovering a whale meat embezzlement scandal the Tokyo Two were contributing to an important debate and fulfilling their role as an NGO, a watchdog in a democratic society.
After updates of disputed convictions on the grounds of freedom of speech cases such as the Tachikawa case where activists were detained for 75 days for leafletting and later convicted by the Japanese Supreme Court. To announce a new future for freedom of expression and NGO work like that of the Tokyo Two and Greenpeace, Prof. Voorhoof said a few words and popped open a bottle of Cava.
After the dust clears and a plane takes Voorhoof back to Belgium, the Greenpeace Japan office and T2 team are tasked with winning freedom for Junichi and Toru and waiting to see if Voorhoof’s eloquent and expert opinion will even be permitted into the actual trial. In the meantime, the T2 defense team must prepare for the next pre-trial hearing August 4th and figure out how to get the Prosecutor’s office to disclose information that they were instructed to handover. Go here for more on the human rights argument and Voorhoof’s legal opinion.
Outreach to the publiv will be the focus until the trial start date which has been pushed back yet again, this time until October 2nd. Plans full of colorful flare are being formed for participation in one of Japan’s most popular festivals which will take place in Aomori in August.
I have traveled to Aomori to provide some relief to the team there which runs the vivid Aomori T-shirt exhibit out of GP’s Aomori Communication Center (ACC). People can come to see original T-shirt art from Greenpeace campaigns all over the world, other vintage Greenpeace paraphanalia, watch the whaling on trial video, get the scoop on other campaigns, and even add artwork to their own Greenpeace T. Read about the opening . Our US forests team would be proud to know that the Kleercut shirt seems to garner interest from people coming inside and Greenpeace Japan staff. You can see a slideshow of some of the T-shirts exhibited here.
I was leafletting today, getting passersby to come inside. A detective came in to get a background on me since I was new to the area. They are watching the ACC most of the time. We are restricted to the area in front of the ACC. For me this is fine. I have only been taught two phrases in Japanese for when I am leafletting and one is “Its just upstairs.”
The town is quaint, the countryside is breathtaking, and the ocean breeze is a great break from the exhaust of Tokyo sprawl. This is the place without key NGOs networking together, where one judge handles most criminal cases and whose decisions and recommendations usually lead to a conviction. I do hope, that by reaching one person at a time, including our US supporters we can do something positive toward the success of the T2 in this trial, for ending whaling in Japan, and challenging norms of suppression of freedom of speech in Japan.