Thursday, September 02, 2010

Tokyo Two on Trial

You could argue that the world does not need beef to eat, in fact most meat. You could argue that the world does not need fish to eat, but I think it does. Yes, you could argue these points. What you cannot argue to me is that the world needs whale meat to eat, or specifically Japan.

But this is not particularly about the rights or wrongs of whale hunting. Pointless preaching to the already converted. This about the Tokyo Two, two Japanese Greenpeace activists. Yes Virginia, such people do exist.

Toru Suzuki and Junichi Sato are in a spot of bother. David McNeill from Japan Times tells what is happening to them. This was written back in 2008.

Six months ago Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were ordinary men looking after young families. But in June they were arrested by a large group of uniformed police, taken to a detention center in Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, and held for 26 days. They were granted bail on July 15 after paying ¥4 million each (AU$52,000), but their release, after an unusual decision by an Aomori judge to hear their case, is highly conditional. Neither is allowed to freely meet or talk to work colleagues, leave home for extended periods or travel abroad. Both are watched by detectives and followed. They can only talk to journalists, separately, in their lawyer's office. Any violation of these conditions will land them back in jail.

It is alleged than whalers on whale hunting ships get to pick the cream of the crop, so to speak, and post it home in parcels where it sells for mega yen on the black market. There are no controls over it whatsoever. Greenpeace wished to expose this, suggesting that some whalers were sending home twenty to thirty boxes with a value of up to US$3000 per box. What a marvellous profit, from taxpayer subsidised whaling expeditions.

Greenpeace decided to intercept one of these parcels to prove their point. It was presented as evidence at a press conference and then handed over to police. And guess what, Sato and Suzuki were arrested for theft and so started a government campaign of harassment of Greenpeace.

This is an absurd over reaction by the Japanese authorities to what is essentially whistle blowing, something that gets some protection in Australia. The Tokyo Two were effectively exposing embezzlement of public money. Why are they being pursued with such zeal by the Japanese authorities?

A court verdict is due on September 6th. Check them out and give them support at their Facebook site, Greenpeace Japan (English) is here.

Toru Suzuki

Junichi Sato


  1. Hope they get a fair trail, not that they should be facing a court at all but let's hope for the best out of this crappy situation for them.

  2. "Justice" huh. Whalers have huge power and influence it seems.

  3. Anonymous4:36 pm

    and don't mention the war ... WW2 that is. and don't mention their sadistic treatment of our troops.

    Japs are repulsive, then and now.
    all of them.


  4. Anonymous5:04 pm

    Brownie, Japanese people are not repulsive, your comments are. The war is long over, isn't it time to dispense with the hateful rhetoric? No nation or group of people has an unblemished history.

    As for the whole 'whale debate', it is a very touchy subject here (Japan) and the government habitually provides misinformation to the general public. I think these two poor sods may have become scapegoats because of the recent bad press the Japanese government has received after the movie 'The Cove' was released in Japan. Many people were shocked by what they learned.

    The far right is very powerful here and they use the 'whale debate' to promote their ultra-nationalist agenda. The far right argues that eating whale and dolphin meat is a time-honoured Japanese tradition and while there is some truth to that - whales and dolphins have been eaten for centuries but mostly as a dietary suppliment when other sources of protein were lacking - most whale meat was eaten immediately after WWII because there was virtually nothing else to eat. Interestingly, it was the occupying US military who encouraged the capture and eating of whales. These days, most Japanese don't eat whale or dolphin meat.

    Andrew, as you know, I've been a strict vegetarian for 15 years and as you also know, I'm far from starving! Humans don't need to eat land or water animals to survive. We are purging the seas to such a degree that scientists believe the seas will be empty within 20 to 30 years. What will people eat then? V.

  5. The result will be interesting Jayne.

    Such a minor thing for the Japanese to dig their heels in about KN but it is all about pride now I think.

    I can't agree Brownie. Friendly, helpful and polite is my opinion. I did not have rels who fought it WW2, so I don't feel any personal connection. What they did then was abhorrent, but let it flow away like all sewerage. It is not modern Japan.

  6. Hopefully they will receive justice - somehow doubt this - just hope the young people in Japan become a voice as they get to vote...and force the issue from within - thats the only way change will ever come about

  7. Respect for elders in Japan is huge MC. I expect this goes down to their views on such matters too. It would be sad if they felt forced by world opinion to ban such distasteful hunting. Far better that they come to a decision themselves.