Whaling on Trial: T2 update

by Allison Kole

May 14, 2010

Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, the Tokyo Two (T2) are two Greenpeace activists on trial in Japan for exposing a whale meat embezzlement scandal within Japan’s Southern Ocean Whaling Program. Yesterday, two crewmembers of the Nisshin Maru whaling and processing ship took the stand.  These two men were central figures in the embezzlement investigation completed by the T2 and Greenpeace, and they had to answer questions on record about the whale meat embezzlement. 
Artist sketch in court

Greenpeace/Molly Intersimone. Artist sketch of witness in Aomori District courtroom. May 14th, 2010

Through the investigation by Greenpeace and the T2, and subsequent evidence in court, it has been shown that the whaling industry is a corrupt government-subsidized annual whale hunt disguised as scientific research.  By the end of the day yesterday, one crewmember confirmed much of the T2’s investigative work in 2008.  He described the involvement of the Fisheries Agency of Japan and the Japan Whaling Association as recipients of whale meat gifts.  Previously in court, a former crewmember identified government officials not only as recipients of “gifts” but actually accused employees of the government’s Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) of taking the best cuts of whale meat off-the-record and for personal gain. The ICR is the body of the Fisheries Agency that accompanies whalers so they can claim to be doing "lethal scientific whaling."

The other crewmember who testified could not keep his story straight, explain why he had brought materials commonly used in preserving whale bacon on board, or say what was in the boxes he sent home.  At one point, he even claimed that he was shipping home Arctic Ice and unwanted whale cuts before the defense reminded him that all of his boxes were shipped at room temperature.  The Public Prosecutor’s Office has chosen to silence citizens calling attention to embezzlement instead of investigating the real scandal.  Embezzlement in a tax-payer funded enterprise where beneficiaries of illegally procured whale meat go all the way up to the Fisheries Agency of Japan.  As more and more evidence comes out, it is apparent that this is a political trial meant to protect those in Japan receiving unmarked boxes of valuable whale bacon.  

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Junichi and Toru had been arbitrarily detained and their freedom of expression violated.   See UNWGAD summary. 

On the other hand, Junichi and Toru have used the trial to show with utmost transparency their investigation and to show how they consistently operated within their rights to Freedom of Expression:

“Through the course of this trial we have consistently proven that we acted in the public interest, which is protected under international law,” said Toru Suzuki, Greenpeace Japan. “The United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was clear in its opinion(1) that neither Junichi or I should have been detained and this prosecution is political. We trust that the court will take this into account, and acquit us.”

 -Toru Suzuki

The next trial date is June 8th, where closing arguments will be heard and the prosecution will request a sentence for two citizens they should be applauding for their courage not silencing to save face.  

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Read the  International Press Release and Past Blog Trial Coverage

Whaling 101

Keep up to date the about Tokyo Two and the whaling issue by joining the T2 facebook page.  

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