Greenpeace Ship Sails into Tokyo Despite “Ban”
Tokyo, Japan — The Greenpeace ship Esperanza, which has been drifting off the coast of Japan for six days, after being effectively banned from going into port, sailed into Yokohama Bay this morning.
Greenpeace staff in Tokyo and crew on board the Esperanza have spent nearly a week lobbying diplomats, unions and the coastguard in order to work around the actions of the All Japan Seamen’s Union, which resulted in cooperation from ships agents being formally withdrawn. Greenpeace circumvented normal procedures by organizing all the relevant paperwork and support itself – a task the organisation was originally told was not possible.
“We are extremely happy to be coming into Japan and to have the opportunity to engage in debate and dialogue about the issue of high seas whaling,” said Sara Holden, on board the Esperanza. “We did not give up hope that we would be able to get in and we hope the fact that many people were still prepared to help us sends a clear signal that Greenpeace is welcome in Japan.”
The Greenpeace ship, which was flying banners that read “We Love Japan, But Not Whaling in a Sanctuary” in Japanese and English, will spend a number of days in Japan. Officials from the Fisheries Agency of Japan and the Institute for Cetacean research have been invited on board the Esperanza to discuss the Japanese government’s whaling programme.
Speaking after the publication of his book on the issue, the Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan, Jun Hoshikawa said: “One government official has already commented on what a pity it is that the debate on whaling is so limited. Now is the time to change that situation. We began a ship-to-ship dialogue in the Southern Ocean and now we will bring that dialogue ship to shore.”
The Esperanza spent seven weeks in the Southern Ocean during the last whaling season, during which time the ship and crew remained on standby close to the fire-damaged whaling factory vessel Nisshin Maru. Help was offered to and accepted by the expedition leader of the fleet and the Greenpeace helicopter was used to carry out surveys of the encroaching ice and report them back to the disabled ship.
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