Whaling on Trial

Feature Story - 2010-02-08
Greenpeace activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, will go on trial in Japan on Feb 15 in an unprecedented court case. Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, known as the “Tokyo Two”,were charged only for theft and trespass. But over the past two years it has become clear that they are being persecuted for so much more.

This scandal has raised many questions and the Japanese government is clearly avoiding the answers.

For more than 20 years, the Japanese government has sponsored a lethal whaling programme in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary under the pretext of scientific research.

In January 2008, Junichi Sato was tipped off by a former whaler that the so-called  research was far from legitimate and was in fact riddled with corruption.  Sato and Suzuki decided to investigate further, proving later that whale meat had been illegally shipped from the expedition for personal gain and with the full knowledge of government officials.

Greenpeace's allegations had struck deep into the heart of the establishment and, one month later, a  government investigation was shut down without explanation on the same day that Sato and Suzuki were arrested.

Greenpeace aims to expose several layers of scandals in this trial. Sato and Suzuki know that they risk up to 10 years in jail; they also know that to say or do nothing risks much more.