Japanese police have arrested two Greenpeace activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, for exposing a whale meat scandal in Japans government-sponsored whaling programme last month. According to the police the activists are "being investigated for allegedly stealing a box of whale meat which they presented as evidence."
Junichi Sato is a well-known anti-whaling blogger in Japan and Greenpeace claims that this was, on the eve of the International Whaling Commission meeting, "an intimidation tactic by the government agencies responsible for whaling." The Japanese media are, according to Brian from Making Waves, saying that this arrest is "a warning to other activist groups that as the G8 approaches, voices of dissent in Japan will not be tolerated."
"This was not a police action - it was an intimidation tactic by the government agencies responsible for whaling - and the kind of harassment of whistleblowers that a modern democracy should not allow. Our first news that an arrest was imminent came from Japanese television stations. Someone leaked the information to ensure images of Greenpeace activists in handcuffs appeared on news reports in Japan.
More than 40 police officer raided our offices and the homes of the activists, and spent 10 hours seizing cell phones, documents, and computers, despite the fact that we had documented every step of how we obtained the whale meat, turned the full dossier over with the evidence, and made ourselves available to police to help with the investigation at any time. A simple phone call could have brought Junichi and Toru to the police station. Instead, the government made a public spectacle of shutting Greenpeace down."
Jun Hoshikawa, Greenpeace Executive Director, says that the arrests are the counterattack from the Japanese Government for exposing the black market trade of stolen whale meat from the government-supported whaling fleet.
"This is the backlash. We've uncovered a scandal involving powerful forces in the Japanese government that benefit from whaling, and it's not surprising they are striking back. What is surprising is that these activists, who are innocent of any crime, would be arrested for returning whale meat that was stolen from Japanese taxpayers. In whose interest were these arrests made? Because it would appear to us that this is an intimidation tactic by the government agencies responsible for a scandal."
Greenpeace are now asking people to take action, they also demands that Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki will be released from custody and that the real criminals are put into jail instead.