URGENT: Greenpeace whale activists arrested in Japan
Two Greenpeace activists who exposed a whale meat embezzlement fraud in Japan — Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki — have been themselves arrested — for allegedly stealing the whale meat that they turned over to police as evidence.
This is the backlash. We’ve uncovered a scandal involving powerful forces in the Japanese government that benefit from whaling, and it’s not surprising they are striking back.
What is surprising is that these activists, who are innocent of any crime, would be arrested for returning whale meat that was stolen from Japanese taxpayers. Theirs are, to date, the only arrests that have been made in the Tokyo public prosecutor’s investigation into the embezzlement we documented of millions of yen worth of whale meat.
This was not a police action — it was an intimidation tactic by the government agencies responsible for whaling — and the kind of harassment of whistleblowers that a modern democracy should not allow. Our first news that an arrest was imminent came from Japanese television stations. Someone leaked the information to ensure images of Greenpeace activists in handcuffs appeared on news reports in Japan.
More than 40 police officer raided our offices and the homes of the activists, and spent 10 hours seizing cell phones, documents, and computers, despite the fact that we had documented every step of how we obtained the whale meat, turned the full dossier over with the evidence, and made ourselves available to police to help with the investigation at any time. A simple phone call could have brought Junichi and Toru to the police station. Instead, the government made a public spectacle of shutting Greenpeace down.
Don’t let Japan shut down the truth. Demand the release of Junichi and Toru and demand an end to the whaling programme in Japan. The corruption of a few bureaucrats who profit from whaling should not be an excuse for harassing those who have exposed it. The domestic and international shame which this scandal is bringing on the Japanese agencies responsible for whaling is just one more reason that Japan should stop its sham scientific whaling programme in the Southern Ocean forever.
Please, take action now and pass this message along to your friends. Let’s get Junichi and Toru back with their families, and demand the real criminals go to jail.
The Greenpeace whale team
While I personally believe that problems such as this one are ultimately down to, once again, the profit system, and true change cannot come solely through environmentalist groups but through a larger political and social movement, it is still important to support groups like Greenpeace in their attempt to save what’s left of our ecosystem – and since individual lives are still worth something, to help these people who are being prosecuted for doing what is right.