Tokyo, Japan, May 14, 2010 – Despite yet another day of compelling evidence of major corruption in the Japanese government whaling programme, Greenpeace activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, known as the Tokyo Two, have been warned by their lawyers that they still run a serious risk of a custodial sentence.
On the final day of witness testimony, two whalers at the heart of the whale meat embezzlement scandal, exposed by Sato and Suzuki, consistently contradicted themselves, each other, their own police statements, the prosecutor’s claims, and the official statements from Japanese authorities.
“Our investigation set out to prove that there is routine embezzlement from the taxpayer-funded whaling programme and our defence that this investigation was in the public interest has been proven,” said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Programme Director. “It is deeply worrying that despite overwhelming evidence showing that we should be acquitted, we are being told that there is a growing chance that we will be sent to jail.”
Evidence given by the whalers today revealed that whale meat was being illegally taken, not only by crew, but also by officials. In addition the whalers testified that meat was even delivered to the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) – which is responsible for deciding on the future of the whaling programme, and the politically influential Whaling Association – a group with close ties to Kyodo Senpaku, which operates the whaling fleet, management and pro-whaling politicians.
“Through the course of this trial we have consistently proven that we acted in the public interest, which is protected under international law,” said Toru Suzuki, Greenpeace Japan. “The United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was clear in its
opinion(1) that neither Junichi or I should have been detained and that our prosecution is political. We trust that the court will take this into account, and acquit us.”
Closing arguments will be heard on June 8th, 2010.
Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.
Greg McNevin - Greenpeace International Communications, +81 (0) 80 5416 6506, firstname.lastname@example.org Kyoko Murakami - Greenpeace Japan Communications, +81 (0) 3 5338 9816, email@example.com Sara Holden – Tokyo Two Campaign Coordinator, + 31 (0) 6 1500 7406, firstname.lastname@example.org
1) In March 2009, Amnesty International lodged a complaint about the treatment of Sato and Suzuki to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary detention. The Working Group asked the Japanese government to explain its actions, however, the authorities limited their response to explaining Japan's criminal justice system and claiming, without substantive explanation, that the 'source' was factually incorrect.
The Working Group did not concur, stating that the Japanese authorities have breached articles 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 18 and 19 of the ICCPR. It also expressed concern that articles 2, 10 and 14 of the ICCPR, relating to the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial, have not been respected.
The full opinion can be found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/tokyo-two/wgad-opinion