Here in Japan, the government funds massive "research" projects to kill whales in the South Pacific and elsewhere, very far away from Japan's coastal waters, where whaling was indeed a traditional way of life - a long time ago.
Enter Greenpeace. Yes, they have a small office in the middle of Shinjuku, Tokyo (think Lost in Translation) and they campaign on everything from genetically modified foods to forests and oceans. And, a few days ago, two of their activists were arrested for stealing whale meat from a shipping company. Since almost no other NGOs here are doing anything at all to stop whaling, this was perhaps not unexpected.
Yet, people are surprised that the government would send some 40 police officers who spent 10 hours intimidating the Greenpeace Japan staff, seizing cell phones, computers, servers, and documents. "This wasn't a police action, it was intimidation," I was told.
What can you do? Read more after the fold.
Brought to you by Martin, Hiromi, Nao & Yosh at greenz.jpWhaling is a serious topic here. If you try to discuss the issue, you may very well get a reply along the lines of: "So, do you support the killing of cattle and pigs?" or "There are plenty of whales in the sea" and so on.
Activists feel the government may be trying to make a point to other NGOs, in case anyone is thinking of protesting against the G8 Summit in Hokkaido next weekend. Others wonder if perhaps Greenpeace did go to far this time - the activists did steal the whale meat on a tip that it was being sent illegally as gifts or bribes to crew members of the whaling ships.
A third explanation (since we have no way of knowing why Greenpeace Japan is suddenly the target of this) is that the International Whaling Commission meeting in Chile is about to show the world, once again, that Japan has virtually no allies - and the country may quit the IWC. Or allow what they may call "limited whale harvest". Local media could then be using the Greenpeace arrests footage as evidence that whaling protesters are unreasonable people who are not acting in Japan's best interest. Complicated? Yes. Yet, who said it was going to be easy to save whales or create a sustainable development for ourselves and this beautiful planet.
What you can do, if you oppose whaling, is to help get the two activists out of jail.
And to support Greenpeace Japan at this very difficult moment for them, consider making an online donation.