Whaling activists ‘surrender’ to Tokyo

Feature Story - 2008-12-10
Representatives of millions of Greenpeace supporters from around the world have paid a visit to the Japanese Prime Minister. If defending whales is a crime, they said, then arrest us too!

Activists from Greenpeace Finland protest in front of the Japanese embassy in Helsinki.

Two Greenpeace anti-whaling activists -- Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki -- from the Japanese office are facing trial in Japan for exposing corruption in the taxpayer-funded whaling industry.

Denounced by Amnesty International

The prime minister's visitors included the executive directors from Greenpeace offices in Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Brazil and the US among others.

A quarter of a million Greenpeace supporters wrote to the Prime Minister to demand their release.

And around the world, people protested outside Japanese embassies (image above is from Finland).

The arrest was denounced by Amnesty International, and fits a pattern of repression of the rights of free speech in Japan which has been condemned by the United Nations.

Whaling on trial

"We want Prime Minister Aso to know that if Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki are to be tried for exposing whale meat embezzlement and working to end the killing of whales in the Japanese Government's 'research' programme in the Southern Ocean, then we should all be arrested," said Jun Hoshikawa, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan.

"It's not Greenpeace activists who should be put on trial; it is the government-backed whaling programme in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."

Greenpeace Executive Directors, and Paddy Hart, ex-whaler, in Tokyo. ©Greenpeace/Sutton- Hibbert

Shame on Japan!

Following a Greenpeace undercover investigation in May 2008 that exposed the embezzlement of whale meat from the taxpayer-funded whaling fleet, Japanese authorities responded with a politically-motivated prosecution, arresting the Sato and Suzuki and raiding the Greenpeace Japan office in June 2008.

They have now been awaiting trial for 172 days under bail conditions which prevent hem from continuing their Greenpeace campaign work to end whaling.

The trial is expected to begin early next year; they are both facing up to 10 years imprisonment.

Join the action

If you oppose anti-whaling then join us and 'hand yourself in' to the Japanese government. Sign our petition urging Tokyo to free our activists.

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