Greenpeace exposes Stolen ’Scientific’ Whale Meat Scandal - Investigation by Japan’s Public Prosecutors Demanded
Tokyo, Japan — A box of whale meat illicitly removed by crew of the Nisshin Maru, the whaling factory ship, following this year’s Southern Ocean whale hunt was put on display by Greenpeace activists in Tokyo this morning, prior to being handed over to the Public Prosecutor’s office in Tokyo as evidence of wide-scale corruption at the heart of the Japanese government-backed, sham scientific whaling operation in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
The environmental organisation is now asking for a full public enquiry to ascertain the level of corruption within the whaling programme. In addition, Greenpeace is calling for an end to taxpayer subsidies for the programme, and for the license of the company operating the whale hunt to be withdrawn.
A four-month Greenpeace undercover investigation has revealed disturbing evidence of an embezzlement ring involving crewmembers on board the Nisshin Maru, who are openly taking the best cuts of whale meat during the so-called scientific hunt, smuggling it ashore disguised as personal luggage and then passing it to the traders for the illegal sales.
Informers claim that senior crew and officials from Kyodo Senpaku - the company operating the fleet - are turning a blind eye to the theft, allowing it to continue for decades. One informer associated with Kyodo Senpaku told Greenpeace that officials from the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) who were on board the Nisshin Maru also knew of the scandal and did nothing.
“The information we have gathered indicates that the scale of the scandal is so great, it would be impossible for the ship’s operating company, Kyodo Senpaku and the ICR, not to know,” said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan whales campaign coordinator. “They are turning their back on large scale corruption and theft of taxpayers’ money. What we need to know now, through a full public enquiry, is who else is profiting from the whaling programme? Who else has allowed this fraud to continue?” Sato added.
Working from information given by former and current Kyodo Senpaku employees, Greenpeace documented the offloading of smuggled whale meat into a special truck, in full view of Kyodo Senpaku officials and crew members when the Nisshin Maru docked on April 15th, this year. The consignment was documented by Greenpeace activists once it left the ship and tracked to a depot in Tokyo. One of four boxes destined for the same private address was then intercepted in order to verify the contents and establish the fraud.
The consignment notes claimed the box contained “cardboard” but in reality held 23.5kg of salted ’prime’ whale meat, worth up to US$3,000. One informer told Greenpeace that dozens of crew take as many as 20 boxes each. Further inquiries in pubs and restaurants in a number of different locations around Japan confirmed that they were expecting the imminent delivery of whale meat from this year’s hunt, despite the fact that the Japanese Fisheries Agency and the Institute of Cetacean Research do not release the whale meat for sale before the end of June, 2008.
The ongoing Japanese government-backed scientific whaling programme, in the internationally recognised Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, has been continually mired in controversy, lies and scandal, bringing Japan into international disrepute. This latest scandal begs the question of just who profits from a whaling programme which generates no useful science and is commercially unsustainable.
“The whaling programme in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is funded by the Japanese taxpayers and they have a right to know who is profiting from their money,” commented Sato. “The Japanese whaling programme has already been shamed internationally for its lack of scientific credibility, embarrassed by the generation of vast stockpile of whale meat few want to eat and is now embroiled in a scandal at home for being corrupt. It is time for the whaling programme to be stopped and public money spent on something more honourable.” Sato concluded.
Additional allegations from informers include:
- Throwing tonnes of whale meat overboard daily because they did not have processing capacity for the increased quotas
- Cancerous tumours being found and cut out of whales and the remaining meat processed for public sale
- Targeted hunts to ensure maximum catch, not random “sampling” as required by the research permits
- Very bad working conditions because of the increased workload from the increased quotas
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