Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Free Junichi and Toru!
Greenpeace Japan exposed a scandal involving the corrupt and powerful whaling industry (which is funded with taxpayers’ money). Two of their activists are now awaiting trial for intercepting a box of stolen whale meat and delivering it to the police.
Greenpeace was tipped off in January 2008 by a former whaling fleet member that crew members of the Japanese whaling fleet regularly take whale meat off the ships and sell it for their own profit.
In April, Greenpeace activists were able to track one of at least 93 boxes of “personal baggage” with a variety of labels such as “cardboard” or “salted stuff”, that were sent from the whaling ship Nisshin Maru, addressed to the private homes of crewmembers. The two activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki removed one of the boxes to verify its contents, which turned out to be not cardboard, but 23.5 kg of prime whale meat cuts, worth between 100,000 yen (US$1,000) and 300,000 yen (US$3,000).
Concluding the four-month undercover investigation, Greenpeace Japan held a press conference in Tokyo, exposing the full details of the whale meat embezzlement scandal. As evidence, Junichi and Toru displayed the box of stolen whale meat that they intercepted, and then delivered it to the Public Prosecutor in Tokyo, along with a full dossier detailing the investigation, including details of the suspected crewmembers.
In May, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office confirmed that there would be an investigation into the whale meat scandal.
However, on June 20th, Junichi and Toru were arrested for stealing the package, and on the same day the Tokyo Public Prosecutor suddenly announced that he had dropped his investigation into the whale meat embezzlement scandal.
After 26 days in police detention, Junichi and Toru are out on bail, but they still face criminal prosecution.
Find out more about the case and how you can help Junichi and Toru!
Junichi (31) is the director of the Oceans Campaign of Greenpeace Japan. A husband and father, he often spends his weekends hiking to nearby Mt. Takao with his son. Junichi speaks of providing an opportunity to children of the future to be awed by Earth’s grand nature.
Joining Greenpeace in 2001 as a campaigner working on toxic materials, he has worked to promote "Zero Waste" in Japan, and was instrumental in the landmark Zero Waste Declaration adopted by the town of Kamikatsu, in Tokushima prefecture, which aims to eliminate waste by 2020. Since then, he has acted as Greenpeace Japan's Campaign Director and now the Director of the Oceans Campaign to promote sustainable coastal fisheries in Japan and an end to so-called research whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Toru (41) is the actions coordinator of Greenpeace Japan. He is married and has a two-year-old daughter. He joined Greenpeace because he was "really impressed that there were so many good people" involved. Toru supports the whales campaign because "simply, I think whaling should end now. A year ago, I was a new Greenpeace volunteer helping out when our ship the Esperanza was coming to Yokohama. I began to understand the whaling issue, and felt that whaling is going to end in 1-2 years".
Here is a video with the story:
Greenpeace Japan's Whale Campaign has a simple and cute little action for promoting awareness and love for whales - attaching whale figures to public drinking fountains in schools and parks. Here are some photos: