Crew caught stealing the best whale meat from 'scientific' programme

Posted by jossc — 15 May 2008 at 10:43am - Comments

Update 20th May: Tokyo Public Prosecutor agrees to launch an investigation

Crew members from the factory ship at the heart of Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling programme have been stealing and illegally selling off the best cuts of whale meat. Our four-month investigation uncovered disturbing evidence of an embezzlement ring operating on board the Nisshin Maru, the floating factory ship which processes the whales caught by the whaling fleet's hunting vessels in the Southern Ocean.

Today we displayed a cardboard box filled with the best cuts of whale meat, smuggled ashore by the crew of the Japanese whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru, for illegal trade and personal gain, at the Japanese taxpayer's expense. The box, along with videotaped testimony and other evidence, suggest widespread embezzelment of whale meat has been occuring for decades under the noses of the public officials who run the whaling programme, and are allowing it to happen.

Our activists delivered the evidence, including the whale meat, to the Public Prosecutor's office in Tokyo, calling on it to make a full public enquiry into how deep the corruption runs with the whaling programme.

Read our 'Whale Meat Scandal' dossier
(Adobe PDF format)

Stake outs, testimony from informers, hidden cameras and tailing trucks full of stolen goods - it reads like a Hollywood movie, but it was an every day experience for Greenpeace activists in Japan, who have spent four months cracking open a major conspiracy of corruption at the heart of Japan's government-backed, sham scientific whaling operation.

The four-month Greenpeace investigation employed undercover tactics to reveal dramatic evidence of an embezzlement ring involving crewmembers on board the Nisshin Maru. Informers who spoke to the activists claim that senior crew and officials from Kyodo Senpaku turned a blind eye to the whale meat theft, allowing it to continue for decades. One informer associated with Kyodo Senpaku told Greenpeace that officials from the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) - the agency that carries out the so-called "scientific research" work on board the Nisshin Maru - are most likely aware of the thefts as well.

"The information we have gathered indicates that the scale of the scandal is so great, it would be impossible for the ship's operating company, Kyodo Senpaku, not to know," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan whales campaign coordinator. "Kyodo Senpaku is turning their back on large scale corruption and theft of taxpayers' money. What we need to know now, through a full public enquiry, is who else is profiting from the whaling programme? Who else has allowed this fraud to continue?" Sato added.

Tracking the stolen whale meat

Working from information given by former and current Kyodo Senpaku employees, the Greenpeace investigators secretly documented the offloading of smuggled whale meat into a special truck, while Kyodo Senpaku officials and crew members stood by, following the Nisshin Maru's return earlier this year, on April 15th. Greenpeace then tracked the consignment from the ship to a depot in Tokyo.

One of four boxes destined for the same private address was then intercepted, to verify the contents and establish the fraud. The consignment notes claimed the box contained "cardboard" - but in reality held 23.5kg of salted 'prime' whale meat, worth up to US$3,000, hidden beneath overalls. One informer told Greenpeace that dozens of crew take as many as 20 of these boxes each, and said he overheard one crewmember claim to have built a house from the proceeds in stolen whale bacon alone.

To track down the final destination of this meat, activists visited pubs and restaurants in a number of different locations around Japan where they requested "special" meat and filmed the responses using hidden cameras. Traders and restaurant owners confirmed that they were expecting the imminent delivery of whale meat from this year's hunt, despite the fact that the Japanese Fisheries Agency and the Institute of Cetacean Research do not release the whale meat for sale before the end of June, 2008.

What you can do

We're now asking for a full public enquiry to ascertain the level of corruption within the whaling programme. We're also calling for an end to taxpayer subsidies for the programme, and for the license of the company operating the whale hunt to be withdrawn.

Help us create an outcry for a full investigation and demand the permits of the whalers be revoked. Write a letter to the Japanese Prime minister. It will only take a minute.

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

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