Global Demand to release Greenpeace Activists in Japan Grows
Embassies flooded with protests after Tokyo Two ordered to remain in custody
Tokyo, Japan — Two Greenpeace Japan activists, arrested last Friday for exposing an embezzlement ring at the heart of the Japanese government’s so-called scientific whaling programme have been ordered to spend a further nine days in jail without charge , after an appeal for them to be released was rejected by a court in Aomori.
The case of the Tokyo Two - Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki - has gained global attention. In the last four days nearly 100,000 people have sent protest letters, calling for their immediate release, to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, and the Foreign Minister, Masahiko Koumura via Japanese embassies in 28 countries.
The letter reads:
"I am writing to protest, in the strongest terms, the arrest of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki for exposing a whale meat smuggling ring.
These activists are innocent of any crime. They have returned a box of whale meat stolen from Japanese taxpayers. They have openly cooperated with police in returning the whale meat and presented a full dossier on how it was obtained.
As a result of the evidence they presented, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor began an investigation into allegations of embezzlement involving smuggled whale meat which raise serious questions about the scale and extent of the abuse of taxpayers’ money by the operators of the Southern Ocean whaling programme.
Arresting the activists who have exposed this scandal is not acceptable, and suggests that the corruption that they called to the world’s attention runs deep in the Japanese government. It is an essential principle of democracy that those who act to expose wrongdoing in government should not be subject to intimidation or harassment, no matter how powerful the forces they oppose. Please, release the activists and pursue the criminals"
“While the two are being detained without charge, government officials from the Fisheries Agency of Japan are attending the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Chile where it is seeking to end whale conservation by calling for a return to commercial whaling, it is even threatening to leave the IWC if it does not get its way,” said Greenpeace Japan Executive Director Jun Hoshikawa.
“The world is protesting the continued unnecessary detention of Sato and Suzuki. This case and Japan’s behaviour at the IWC casts a long shadow over democracy as the country prepares for the G8 meeting. Prime Minister Fukuda promised leadership at the G8 that should be an example of how to create a better world. That process must begin now, by stopping the intimidation of peaceful protestors who have only acted to expose environmental crimes and ending the drive to return to commercial whaling,” concluded Hoshikawa.
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