David @ Tokyo
Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
ICJ case updates
First post in a long long time.
A couple of marathons and better stuff to do than thinking about anti-whaling nutters has largely kept me disinterested in the whaling circus for the last couple of years, and by the looks of it I haven't missed much.
Sea Shepherd have apparently continued their dangerous activities in the Southern Ocean (with success from their point-of-view), their leader has become an international fugitive, they have been labelled as "pirates" by the US justice system, and whale meat is still on the shelves here in Tokyo at my local supermarkets. All in all, not a great deal of significant change to my mind, just short term events.
Although I should note that recently I've seen more Icelandic whale meat on sale than before. Presumably the commercially produced Icelandic fin whale product has a good price advantage on the Japanese research whaling minke whale stuff, although with the Japanese yen weakenening over the past 5 or 6 months this may have some impact on prices for Iceland's product going forward. The strength of the yen must have been a nice tail wind for Iceland's whalers until now.
Personally I am looking at the ICJ case between Australia and Japan as having far more long term significance for the whaling disputes than anything to do with Sea Shepherd's activities.
A good number of documents have become available at the ICJ page
as the proceedings run their course.
It sounds like there will be a lot of action there in July
. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, I won't be around much of a computer for a good part of July to be able to follow, but perhaps some more details about the case and it's path will become available at the time.
A couple of documents (here
) about the recent intervention by New Zealand are full of legalese but there are some interesting bits for the lay person:
Judge Owada adds that the Order does not sufficiently examine, in the concrete context of the situation of this case, the serious issues raised by Japan regarding the intervention by New Zealand. Judge Owada notes that, although Japan does not raise a formal objection to the intervention, it seems evident that it is deeply concerned that New Zealand’s intervention could have consequences that would affect the equality of the Parties to the dispute and thus the fair administration of justice.
Judge Owada further writes that it is regrettable that a State Party to a case before the Court and a State seeking to intervene in that case pursuant to Article 63 of the Statute should engage in what could be perceived as active collaboration in litigation strategy to use the Court’s Statute and the Rules of Court for the purpose of promoting their common interest, as is candidly admitted in their Joint Media Release of 15 December 2010.
Sounds very much like the dirty tricks of the IWC have been brought to the ICJ, although that is to be expected.
On the other hand, there is also a clear indication that at least one other judge on the panel takes an anti-whaling view:
15. He then recalls that the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), provides for the proper conservation of the whale stocks and the orderly development of the whaling industry; it is, in his view, clear that the former stands higher, as without the proper conservation of whale stocks there can be no orderly development of the whaling industry. The basic foundation of the ICRW is thus the conservation of all whale species at issue.
Obviously I can't agree with this judge's higher emphasis on conservation. Naturally there can be no sustainable whaling without conservation, however conservation without regard for the goal of development of the whaling industry is a denial of the true purpose of the convention.
At the end of the day, if the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling can be abused to the point that it's original purpose - whaling - is no longer possible, then there is no longer any benefit for nations with an interest in whaling remaining party to it. This is a key point to which I expect most ICJ judges will pay respect to, given the precedents that could be set for international agreements if they can simply be turned back on, not least of all for the functioning of the IWC.
Labels: ICJ Australia v. Japan
I'm safe, prayers for others on the Pacific Rim
I am actually in New Zealand right now, due to an emergency (not the Christchurch earthquake, fortunately. Not in Japan now as a result, at least for the time being.
Today's earthquake and tsunamis are tragic not only for Japan but likely also for other nations of the Pacific yet to be hit by the waves...
This is a terrible day.
Let's be thankful that of course we are safe but also think of those that are facing the adversity of nature - and hope that as many people as possible are able to get themselves and their families to safety, if the disaster has not yet struck their homes.
Labels: Japan earthquake 2011
Comments are still there, but are turned off temporarily. I would turn off just new comments if I could, but it seems Blogger don't make this possible, so they are all hidden.
They will be re-enabled (and re-appear) next week or whenever it is my thoughts turn here.
UPDATE 2011/2/28/: Comments are now back on again.
Greenpeace guilty as charged
Two Greenpeace activists were today convicted as charged for trespass and theft. The judge was extremely lenient on them giving them a 1 year sentence suspended for 3 years.
Also as I predicted here yesterday, the convicted criminals have indicated that they plan to appeal the decision, wasting yet more tax payer resources for their propaganda purposes. Alas the justice system was not designed with self-righteous propaganda spin organizations such as Greenpeace in mind.
Not only this, Greenpeace has already tried to turn the coverage of the conviction into yet another propaganda opportunity. Greenpeace clearly have no respect for the law or democratic institutions.
But you have to laugh (if not cry) at the western media. Take this from Australia
A Japanese court will today deliver its verdict in the trial of two Greenpeace activists charged with stealing whale meat.
Dubbed the Tokyo Two, the Japanese Greenpeace activists admit to ...
"Dubbed the Tokyo Two"? It was Greenpeace Internationals' own propaganda machine that came up with this moniker in the first place. The moniker is not even accurate - one of the criminals' does not have a Tokyo address, and they committed the crimes in Aomori prefecture, hundreds of kilometres north of Tokyo.
It is an indictment on the western media that they regurgitate Greenpeace propaganda without any independent verification of the facts. That the incident occurred in Japanese-speaking Japan is no excuse. Media have an moral obligation to report facts, not biased nonobjective nonsense spouted by Greenpeace's propaganda machine.
Greenpeace activists judgement tomorrow
Finally after 2 years of Greenpeace Japan wasting the time and resources of Japanese authorities and taxpayers (not to mention their own dubiously obtained funding), tomorrow two activists will be judged for trespassing on the property of the Seino transportation company and taking off with a cardboard box shipped by a Nisshin Maru crew member, which contained whale meat.
To recap, back in May of 2008, Greenpeace Japan organized a huge media scrum around some supposedly devastating evidence of wrong doing by crew members of Japan's research whaling operations in the Antarctic. This was to be a huge coup for Greenpeace after they had found themselves crowded out of the Antarctic whaling vessel harassment industry by the even crazier and more violent Sea Shepherd organization. As perhaps the founding member of the commercial anti-whaling industry, Greenpeace had long opposed whaling as part of their branding, and had tried a range of dirty tricks to bring it to an end, all without success. By 2008, they had found themselves marginalized by the Sea Shepherd organization. But with this story of "stolen whale meat", they thought they had finally scored a king hit against whaling.
"Greenpeace investigation: Japan's stolen whale meat scandal
", read their headline.
The cover page of their glossy "dossier"
, used for Greenpeace propaganda (=revenue generating) purposes, was an image of a package, with the caption reading "Stolen whale meat intercepted by Greenpeace Japan
Contained within the document are further images of the whale meat, with captions such as "23.5 kilos of stolen whale meat secured as evidence by Greenpeace Japan", and "The Greenpeace investigators retained the box in order to carry out further investigations prior to presenting all the evidence to the authorities.
It was compelling stuff, making headlines on my mobile phone news service that morning - except for two big problems: One, the existence of a box of whale meat did not constitute evidence of theft.
Two, how did Greenpeace Japan come to "secure" the box of whale meat?
(since when were Greenpeace activists "investigators"?)
As Greenpeace note, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office undertook to investigate the allegations against the whaling crew members
, as was to be expected. If wrong doing had occurred on the part of the whalers then naturally it should be investigated and dealt with appropriately.
However, as Sankei reported a month later on June 20
It appears that the the Tokyo Prosecutors' Office will drop the investigation into whaling crew members. It is believed that the prosecutors have judged that the charge of embezzlement is not satisfied, as the shipping company that employs the crew members had purchased the whale meat and distributed it to the crew in recognition of their services.
So not only was the whale meat package not evidence of theft, there was no theft at all by the whaling crew members. The whale meat was revealed to be essentially part of their remuneration package.
Meanwhile, shortly after Greenpeace's high profile media scrum in May, the Seino transportation company had filed a claim due to theft with Aomori police regarding the missing package. Aomori police later revealed around June 13 that they were investigating Greenpeace members on theft charges. Greenpeace in response revealed that they had sent an apology to Seino for the trouble they had caused them (mainly through damage to their reputation as a transportation company as Greenpeace's acquisition of the package raised concerns about Seino security practices), but at the same time refused to apologise to the crew member
whose whale meat they had stolen. "We're the ones accusing him of theft, why should we apologise?
", a Greenpeacer is quoted as saying.
A week later, on the same day as the investigation of false charges against whaling crew were confirmed to be dropped, Greenpeace Japan's Shinjuku offices were searched by authorities and the two activists directly involved in the theft and trespass operation were arrested.
* * *
What ensued since then has been a massive charade by Greenpeace Japan and their international mother organization. The two arrested activists have been turned into yet further propaganda material for Greenpeace, and rather than humbly accept that they made a mistake, they have changed the story from their original investigation determined to try to demonstrate some kind of illegality on the part of the crew members so as to try to justify their own actions. This has seen their trial be dragged out for a rather long time. Further they refused to accept the non-prosecution of the whaling crew members, triggering a review of the decision by an independent panel of Japanese citizens. That panel verified the non-prosecution decision
, yet Greenpeace Japan continued to arrogantly and self-righteously complain, rather than accept and acknowledge the Japanese justice system and its processes.
This organization and it's followers are without objective thought.
It is the whales. Greenpeace activists are of a cult-like belief that "whaling is wrong", and that as they are opposed to whaling, "Greenpeace is right". Everything else gets tacked on as an after thought or justification for anything, including their criminal behaviour here.A recent blog post by the two "activists" / criminals is quite revealing
. See the following statements:
"It’s a long way from where it was when this case started – our investigation to end Japan’s whaling."
"... we were closing in on evidence that could finally end this whaling programme."
" ... it was clear that the only place Japanese whaling would ever be ended was at home in Japan. When we intercepted a box of embezzled whale meat, we knew we finally had the evidence to prove the corrupt nature of the industry and shut it down by bringing an end to its huge taxpayer subsidies. "
As is evident through these comments (note they are prepared for and English audience, rather than a Japanese one), the goal of Greenpeace was always to attack the whaling programme. This is a core component of Greenpeace's commercial branding. First and foremost, Greenpeace's goal is to attack and see whaling activities end, and through generation of related propaganda materials, secure donations from anti-whaling constituencies. Everything else is any old excuse they happen to think of. Their logic in itself is juvenile. Were the program having problems of the nature that Greenpeace had alleged, those problems would have been tidied up, and the research whaling programme would still continue.
What this was was Greenpeace finding themselves no longer able to effectively compete for media attention in the Antarctic, and thus trying a new tactic of attacking the whaling crew members with claims of theft and corruption. All of which when investigated by professionals, rather than the zealot anti-whaling amateurs from Greenpeace, were found to be false.
* * *Kyodo Tsushin has a brief on the case and it's verdict, due tomorrow
. Here's my rough translation and comments.
The defence lawyers have argued that Greenpeace's taking of the meat was not for the purpose of taking ownership, but to accuse whaling crew members of embezzlement, therefore (they argue) the conditions of theft are not satisfied.
Of course, one has to point out that Greenpeace did not need to trespass and steal the meat in order to simply make their accusations of theft. Furthermore it's interesting to recall that the whale meat images featured extremely prominently in Greenpeace's propaganda materials. There was also an unnaturally long amount of time between the theft of the meat and Greenpeace's submission of it as "evidence" to the Prosecutor's office (and only after request to do so). Their claims would be more convincing had they submitted the evidence prior
to using it for their propaganda purposes, rather than after
it and the request from the real officials. At it's core, Greenpeace generates its income and pays its salaries through production of propaganda and consequent acquisition of donations, so to my mind the two activists certainly had intent to obtain the whale meat illegally (even if they are too blinded by their own whaling beliefs to recognise this themselves).
Also during the trial Greenpeace have continued with their accusations of embezzlement, and Kyodo Tsushin notes that attention is being given to whether the judgement gives mention to whether or not embezzlement by the whaling crew members occurred.
Three points of contention have been gone over at the trial. 1) Whether there was intent to illegally take possession of the whale meat by the activists, 2) whether it can be regarded as justifiable behaviour and 3) whether it can come under protection from the right of freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Japanese constitution and international human rights treaties.
The prosecution has argued that the treaties "do not permit one to infringe upon the property and custodial rights of others", and is calling for 18 months prison sentences.
The defence has said that even if the decision finds there was intent to illegally take possession of the whale meat, "the public good of having disclosed the organized whale meat embezzlement is greater than the detriment caused by the taking of the whale meat, and thus illegality should be excused."
I am confident that they will be convicted. If their logic were to apply, it would then also be justified for crazed anti-whaling activists / "investigators" to break and enter my premises to take off with the whale meat cans sitting on my desk as "evidence" (or whatever they dream up), or for me to break and enter Greenpeace Japan premises in search of evidence of illegal doings, etc.
Further, that Greenpeace would argue that they were seeking to do something for the "public good" is typical of their self-righteous mentality, which needs to be rectified. Greenpeace's role is not as a public good organization, but for campaigning on a select collection of issues which their supporters and their supporters alone fund, of their own twisted volition in the case of whaling. Greenpeace does not represent nor work for the public, as do genuine authorities and investigators, and Greenpeace activists clearly lack the necessary objectivity to act in such a role here. Greenpeace has a right to campaign, to represent the views of its supporters, but it does not have the right to commit crimes in the name of those campaigns.
I both expect and hope that the judgement tomorrow will recognise these points.
Unfortunately, I also expect that Greenpeace will continue to drag this out by appealing the decision if it goes against them. Either way, I doubt Greenpeace Japan has a long future ahead of it in Japan.
... And this supermarket too
In my usual supermarket today and surprised because whereas I thought they didn't sell any whale products I found out that I was wrong:
My, we are well stocked this summer aren't we?
UPDATE 2010/09/04: And I was at the supermarket the other night again and saw that they have whale bacon too. How did I ever miss it?
Labels: whale gourmet, whale meat market
Supermarket shelves restocked
A few months ago when I peeked in a near-by supermarket I found the shelves were almost bare of canned whale products. What was the situation I wondered?
Were the products so popular they were selling out quickly? (Well whale is tasty, but it's no "miracle" product - just a type of meat - albeit much better than that nasty cow meat from Australia)
Or were the products unpopular so they weren't being restocked? (But then empty shelves in Tokyo supermarkets are not good at all for profitability)
Neither idea really seemed to make good enough sense.
So I was in the same supermarket yesterday, and found that not only were the shelves now packed full
of whale products, there were also a couple of products I hadn't seen before, so I picked up a can each.
First up is "KUJIRA YAKINUKU":
The description on the can notes that this item is produced from whale by-products from Minke, Bryde's and Sei whales of the western north pacific and antarctic, sampled under Japan's special permit programs. The labelling on my can here in particular indicates that the whale inside came from an Antarctic minke whale.
Second up, is SANRIKU KUJIRA CURRY:
This can doesn't have such precise information about the origins of the whale, but the homepage of the company in Ishinomaki that produced it notes that they handle mainly research whaling by-products. Can't wait to try this one sometime, I love Japanese style curry and with whale it should be pretty good too (usually I use pork).
Anyway, now I have another idea about why the supermarket shelves for whale products were almost bare a couple of months ago, but packed yesterday. When in the supermarket looking at the shelves, one forgets that whale overall is limited in supply by how the volume of by-products eventuating from the research programs, and particularly with the Antarctic research being hampered again last winter, one expects that the whale meat supply this year is again down. But with it being August now, what by-products were available from last season's Antarctic research will now be available to the markets at least in part, and quite possibly the companies producing these canned products had put production on hold until such a time as they had more base products to work with, hence the lack of supply a few months ago versus now.
Labels: Ishinomaki, whale gourmet, whale meat market
ICJ: Australia v. Japan Part 3
Returning again to my series on Australia's ICJ application, this is Part 3. Parts 1 and 2 here
I got up to point 17 last time, and so it's there that I continue on. From this point Australia describes what it says is the "Refusal of Japan to accept recommendations of the IWC
The legal value of this entire section escapes me (admittedly I am a legal layman). What Australia means by "accept recommendations" isn't entirely clear, but presumably they wish to say that Japan isn't acting in accordance with the recommendations of the IWC.
Firstly, there is no legal obligation for any Contracting Government to act as such. Recommendations are just that - recommendations.
Secondly, Japan has acted in accordance with various recommendations - just not all the recommendations that Australia would like. But just because Australia's official policy purports to desire something, that does not mean it is even reasonable let alone legally binding. Australia's legal advisers are surely aware of this, and thus one has to question the purpose of adding this section to their application. Is it just to fill out some extra pages, to make their application appear more substantial? Or is it just to take advantage of the opportunity to splurge the typical anti-whaling propaganda that the Australian government always rehashes?
Nonetheless, let's humour this. In point 17 Australia makes reference to Article VI of the convention, which reads as follows:
The Commission may from time to time make recommendations to any or all Contracting Governments on any matters which relate to whales or whaling and to the objectives and purposes of this Convention.
Australia's text says that the conventions purposes "... include, first and foremost, "safeguarding for future generations the great natural resources represented by the whale stocks"."
This is quite an astonishing statement for Australia to make - through deliberate omission (amusingly when I search for other sources that state such an interpretation the only one that I can find is this Wikipedia page
, which even references this blog as a source!)
What the convention actually
says in its preamble is substantially more than that. The text which Australia has selectively quoted in fact reads:
"Recognizing the interest of the nations of the world in safeguarding for future generations the great natural resources represented by the whale stocks;"
The word "recognizing" is not insignificant, yet Australia has snipped it out and purports that what follows it is the "first and foremost" purpose of the convention. Yet this particular statement by itself is something that was recognized
by the drafters of the convention, but being recognized
does not make it the "first and foremost" purpose of the convention. It was the "first" point recognized
in the convention, but there is nothing to suggest that coming "first" before subsequent points makes them any less important. And to suggest the item is "foremost" is also without any substantiation.
Additionally if one reads the rest of the preamble one finds that it also "recognizes" other points such as the fact that "increases in the size of whale stocks will permit increases in the number of whales which may be captured without endangering these natural resources
". (Read the whole thing
if you are unfamiliar with it)
But finally, the ultimate purpose of the convention is quite clearly stated at the end of the preamble:
"Having decided to conclude a convention to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry;"
These words are unequivocal with respect to the purpose of the convention. Yet Australia has tried to distort this in it's application. One can't imagine the ICJ panel of judges will look favourably upon such a level of argumentation by Australia.
Still further, as I highlighted back in 2007
, British politicians, while anti-whaling like Australia, are clear on this point too, as seen from the records of British parliament in 1991
It is clear that the Japanese, the Norwegians and the Icelanders are members of the International Whaling Commission so as to achieve an agreed international rule for resumed whaling of the minke and the fin whale stock. We are not fools. We know that that is the purpose. In a sense, that is what the constitution of the organisation says, so that is a legitimate expectation on their part.
I don't think the Australians are fools either, but for some reason this sort of nonsense has made it's way into Australia's application.
That Australia can not honestly accept the purpose of the ICRW is at the heart of this whole dispute.
Through points 18 through 21, Australia enumerates some past IWC recommendations that Australia presumably agreed with, and concludes in point 22 that "Japan has refused to comply with any of these recommendations". As I noted above, IWC recommendations aren't legally binding in the first place (nor necessarily reasonable recommendations either).
On the other hand, Japan has acted in accordance with other IWC recommendations that Australia doesn't list, such as the one from 1986 that I highlighted in the previously part of this series that recommends that "following the completion of scientific treatment the meat as well as the other products should be utilised primarily for local consumption.
Does Australia believe that it should legally be able to pick and choose those recommendations to which Japan must abide by? Surely not. Australia is no more nor less than Japan nor any other sovereign state.
Through points 23 through 26, Australia describes the "IWC negotiations
". For Australia to use the word "negotiations" is ironic, since Australia's position was always that Japan would have to do as Australia desires for there to be an agreement. Australia itself notes that it argued that it "needs to see an immediate end to
" special permit whaling. This selfish and inflexible position on the part of Australia illustrates clearly that it was entirely unwilling to compromise or even show an understanding of the fact that there was a point of mutual disagreement between Australia and Japan.
Moreover, if Australia is dissatisfied with Article VIII of the ICRW, or other parts of the ICRW (including those parts that it ignores), it has the right under Article XI of the convention to withdraw from it. That Australia has not done so, and purports to participate in "negotiations" with it's inflexible position and unreasonable demands gives the impression that Australia's true intent is simply to defeat the object and purpose of the ICRW. That is essentially the best option for politicians who are trying to appeal to voters in anti-whaling electorates.
Points 27 and 28 cover some more recent IWC history, but point 29 is more interesting in that Australia says "It has become clear that current and proposed IWC processes cannot resolve the key legal issue that is the subject of the dispute between Australia and Japan
". This is perhaps the only point in Australia's entire application that I can find myself in clear agreement with. If Australia wishes to test it's interpretation of the ICRW at the ICJ, this is a positive thing in that at the end of the matter it will be very clear as to who is right and who is wrong. The result, if it comes as I believe it will, will be a devastating blow to the commercial anti-whaling industry and governments such as Australia who appear to have sold out their policy stances to that industry in a cynical hunt for votes.
In points 30 through 32, Australia mentions the "Refusal of Japan to comply" with some other "requests" Australia made by itself and with some of it's anti-whaling friends. Again, these requests are not legally binding, and simply making such requests repeatedly does not increase their legal power, as far as I know. This is just, as with point 17, Australia filling it's application with propaganda rather anything resembling a serious legal argument.
In point 33 Australia continues to blow it's own horn, trumpeting it's appointment of a "whale envoy" (Sandy Hollway), as well as the failure of this appointment to achieve anything that Australia ostensibly hoped for. (The appointment was an election commitment by the previous Rudd government, if I recall correctly.)
In point 34, Australia notes that although this case is with respect to the Southern Ocean, it feels the same way with regards to Japan's activities in the western north pacific. They didn't want to have anyone thinking Australia wasn't opposed to whaling activities in the northern hemisphere, I guess, hence they added this in?
Coming towards it's conclusion, Australia lists what it describes as "Obligations breached by Japan
" in points 35 through 39. The first three refer to the ICRW, and naturally what Australia claims here I consider nonsense based on what I have covered already up to this point. Point 38 in particular refers to CITES, with which I am less familiar and not inclined to examine closely here considering the rest of Australia's application.
In point 40, Australia notes that it hopes the Court will agree with it, and that it may "supplement, amplify or amend the present Application
" as it has the right to. I can only expect that this will be the case given the nature and quality of the application as it stands. (I still remain of the view that there is a good possibility that the Australia government drops this action to save face. After all, it seems elections may be out of the way for the next 3 years now perhaps.)
In point 41 Australia notes its wish-list (good luck), and of final significance, in point 42 Australia notes that it will appoint an adhoc judge. As I understand it, the way the ICJ operates is a panel of judges will sit on the case, and here because Australia does not currently have a judge on the panel, it has the right to appoint one. Ultimately the ICJ panel of judges will rule by way of majority decision. I believe we are yet to hear who Australia's adhoc judge will be, and indeed the judge may ultimately vote against Australia anyway. Still, one would hope they don't appoint a patsy, just so as to ensure they don't lose the case by unanimous decision - that would be very poor form indeed.
Labels: ICJ Australia v. Japan