Help us put whaling on trial in Japan

Posted by jossc — 20 November 2008 at 6:09pm - Comments

Whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru departs for the Southern Ocean

The whalers' factory ship Nisshin Maru leaving Innoshima on Monday

Japan's whaling fleet slunk out of port earlier this week under a cloud of financial crisis and scandal, with none of the elaborate parades and marching bands of previous years' departures. This time the Nisshin Maru left the port of Innoshima with no triumphant fanfare, after the cancellation of the usual traditional departure ceremony in its home port of Shimonoseki. Word has it that this time, only a small group of 30 or so saw the whalers off - along with a hardy bunch of activists who protested with banner saying "whaling on trial" and one highlighting the whaling operation’s multi-million dollar drain on Japan’s taxpayers.

The past few weeks have not been good ones for the whalers - first of all was the deflagging of the support ship Oriental Bluebird. Japanese newspapers reported that, for the first time since the nation began 'scientific' whaling in the 1980s, the self-appointed quota would be decreased. Then we heard of the announced closure of Yushin (Toyko's largest whale meat shop), and news that for the first time, the whaling ships wouldn't be 100 per cent crewed: many former crew members were reluctant to sail again, following the whale meat scandal uncovered by a Greenpeace undercover investigation.

The best evidence that our work is having a real impact on Japan's whaling programme is the effort they've put into striking back through the arrest and trial of the Tokyo 2, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, for their roles in exposing of the whale meat scandal earlier this year. They've been charged with stealing the very whale meat they delivered to the public prosecutor as evidence, and face up to ten years in prison. The police raided our offices, seizing supporter data, documents, and computer disks, and the local authorities are threatening Greenpeace Japan with closure.

But Greenpeace has a proud history of confronting problems directly, which is precisely why we are focussing the whaling campaign to Japan, where ultimately the decisions on the future of whaling are being made. So we’ll keep on raising the whaling issue at the highest level, and continue to mobilise the majority of the Japanese public (who don’t support whaling in the Southern Ocean) to recognise that their government's whaling programme is a corrupt misuse of public money. The obvious disarray within the whaling industry and the extreme overreaction by the authorities towards Junichi and Toru indicates that we are successfully pulling the rug out from under the whaling industry's feet. It's the beginning of the end for whaling in Japan and it's time for Japanese taxpayers to demand that their government stop subsidising this bankrupt programme, and order the fleet home.

Support the Tokyo Two

Junichi and Toru will be on trial at least until February of 2009. Funnily enough, the whaling fleet will be whaling until that time as well. Help us recruit more people to stand in solidarity with them by putting the banner at left on your blog or website. It will not only keep track of how much the whaling expedition is costing the Japanese taxpayer on a daily basis, but it calculates how long Junichi and Toru have been without their liberty, and how many of you have signed up as fellow criminal collaborators. Links to more information and action included, of course.

Read a recent interview with Toru and Junichi »

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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