Following the exposure of a whale meat embezzlement scandal in Japan by Greenpeace activists in 2008, I was brought in to support communications work around the court case the Japanese government subsequently brought against activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki.
The “Tokyo Two” went on trial in early 2010, in what would be an unprecedented court case and political prosecution. Sato and Suzuki were arrested on accusations of “theft” and “trespass” for their part in intercepting a box of whale meat embezzled by workers from Japan’s controversial Southern Ocean whaling programme. They handed the box over to authorities requesting a full investigation, but were instead arrested themselves and put on trial.
The two were eventually found guilty, but were vindicated soon after the court verdict when Fisheries Agency officials admitted the corruption the Tokyo Two exposed happened, apologised and imposed disciplinary actions on the staff invovled.
Japan’s actions on the case were specifically and formally condemned by the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, as it failed to adhere to international law and agreements, as well as its own domestic laws.
The case is detailed here in Whaling on Trial.
- New Japanese Foreign Minister blindly pledges support for whaling
- Aomori Court leaves Tokyo Two trial to languish
- Final voyage of the Japanese whaling fleet?
- Supreme Court rejects Tokyo Two appeal for disclosure of key evidence
- End of Japanese Whaling May be in Sight
- Greenpeace Urges Hatoyama and Obama to Keep Election Promises and End Whaling
- Greenpeace launches Supreme Court appeal for Tokyo Two
- Court denies disclosure of whale meat embezzlement evidence
- Tokyo two Pre-trail hearings continue: A proper defence requires all the evidence
- Tokyo Two Prosecution Continues Culture of Cover-ups
- No Market for Icelandic Whale Meat in Japan
- Japanese court to hear evidence on whale meat embezzlement
- Greenpeace Calls for End to Cover-ups, Lies, and Southern Ocean Whaling
- Greenpeace appeals against Japanese government censorship
- Whaling and whaling subsidies still unnecessary
- Greenpeace, Japanese NGOs Demand End To Whaling Subsidies
- Greenpeace Condemns Japanese Government’s Whaling Subsidy Increase
- Unjust Conviction of Anti-Whaling Activists Upheld by Sendai High Court
- Japanese High Court rejects additional evidence in Tokyo Two appeal
- Greenpeace anti-whaling activists to launch appeal in Sendai High Court
- Tokyo Two activists given harsh verdict in whale trial
- Tokyo Two: Activism is not a crime
- The “Tokyo Two” thank their supporters
- Trial against Tokyo Two starts
Images from the Whaling on Trial campaign here.
Coverage of the trial was consistent and broad for the two plus years I worked on it, with Reuters, AFP, AP, The Guardian, The BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, The Christian Science Monitor, The Japan Times, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Independent, The Times, The Irish Times, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC Australia and many more carrying the story.
ABC Australia’s Foreign Correspondent won an award for its feature on the trial, titled “The Catch” .
Featured image by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Greenpeace.