The saga of the two Greenpeace activists arrested over two years ago for stealing whale meat from a shipping depot, in an effort to expose corruption within Japan's whaling program, is over. Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were given one-year jail terms, suspended, for theft and trespassing. Prosecutors had wanted them jailed for 18 months.The specific corruption the so-called Tokyo Two were trying to expose was a misuse of public funds, used to support the Japanese whaling fleet. The whale meat they stole was taken by members of the crew of the Nisshin Maru, in violation of the regulations of the whaling program.
After the verdict Junichi said,
While the court acknowledged that there were questionable practices in the whaling industry, it did not recognize the right to expose these, as is guaranteed under international law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on which our defense was based, supersedes domestic criminal law, but the judgement did not properly take this into account.
The questionable practices Junichi refers to are multi-fold.
Japan objects to the international ban on commercial whaling (which it is legally allowed to do under international law) and its widely publicized and widely opposed whaling program is claimed to be for scientific research.
However, both independent investigations of the program, as well as industry whistleblowers, have shown that whale meat from these whales killed in the name of research both shows up in commercial shops, as well as being sold surreptitiously by whalers themselves for personal profit.
This latter part, whistleblowers say, used to be a much more common occurrence, prior to international media and activists shining a spotlight on Japan's whaling fleet.
Greenpeace says it will appeal the "totally unjust, politically motivated sentence."
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More on Whaling:
Greenpeace Activists Arrested for Stealing Whale Meat in Japan
UN Says Japan Violated Anti-Whaling Activists' Human Rights
Japanese Whales Building Homes, Buying Cars With Illegally Sold Whale Meat: Former Whaler
Greenpeace Blocks Ship Loaded with Fin Whale Meat Heading for Japan
Japan Buys Off Developing Nations' Whaling Support: Whistleblower