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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



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.


Excellent post, David. Thanks for running through the background. I think your conclusions will also be backed by many in Japan.
An article big on spin, short on facts.
Yes, thank you very much. I had only heard about this from SS and of course did not trust a single word of it. Good to have guys like you to research this stuff! :D

Yes, and their legal justification of this theft is beyond stupid.
He Tohora, Hjalti,



Greenpeace fanboys living in the Matrix surely won't like some of what I wrote, but the facts are 1) GPJ trespassers broke the law
2) GPJ thieves broke the law
3) Official investigators investigated and dismissed GPJ allegations that whale meat had been stolen from the shipping company by the crew members
4) An independent panel of citizens verified and affirmed the judgement of official investigators
5) (This fact established today) The judge of GPJ criminals noted that it could not be concluded that the box of whale meat was evidence of embezzlement.

Greenpeace went off the rails, over the line, outside the boundaries of normal society, and they must take the punishment. They can either grow up and accept that they were wrong or they can elect to have no credibility in the eyes of anyone with common sense. It's seems the latter is to be - after all people with no common sense are still possibly going to be foolish enough to keep donating money to this disgraceful organization.
Very good article, David!

"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."

Indeed. And in fact, they could have got better evidence (but that's only if there was any embezzlement) if they had followed the box to its destination and then checked if the crewmember was selling it as they were accusing him of.

Another interesting thing is that the pamphlet that was made by Greenpeace (with many pictures of themselves with the stolen whale meat) is abbreviated in its English version. While the Japanese interview of the informant mentions the existence of a custom to give souvenirs to the crewmembers, it doesn't appear in the English one.

It's in the same logic as that of not reporting the conclusion of the independent panel of citizens which reviewed the decision of the prosecutor to drop the charges against the Nisshinmaru crewmembers.
Thanks for this analysis David. For those of us to whom the whaling debate is a bit strange and foreign, your blog is a good counterpoint to the commercially motivated drivel we are swamped with and which is, in my view, causing the paralysis -if not the death - of progressive environmentalism.
I see the Ecologist magazine is now writing that the two anti-whale eaters have demonstrated "widespread corruption" in Japan's whaling program.
This from the magazine that bills itself as the world's leading Environmental magazine".
Thank God for the internet or the food fascists and hate mongers would have us back in the 70s!
Isanatori It is constantly amazing to me how much of this anti-whale eating storm in a tea-cup hangs on media not reporting information crucial to contextualizing the issue du jour.

The anti-whaling "movement' is decidedly a creature of top down old media IMHO.
I think some anti whaling campaigners need to do away with the preconception that those who disagrees with your position is involved in corruption. Just start with a clean slate and do your own research by putting aside any prejudice. That's what I did and this place makes so much more sense.
I pose the same question here as under your more recent posting.

You stated that "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."

Apart from your questionable assertion that wrongdoing is basically guaranteed to be addressed if someone points it out, I wonder whether you are willing to admit your faith in the system was not warranted now that the FAJ has itself belatedly admitted and apologised for the fact that the whale-meat taking of its officials on the whaling fleet violated ethical rules.

I suspect not as in your fervour to defend the whaling business you seem unable to contemplate that any critic may have even a shadow of a point. But I would appreciate your answer anyway (beyond your likely observation that The Law is the Law, the police must be trusted and I am a victim of GP brainwashing)

What has changed? Greenpeace's allegations of theft by whaling crew members remain as they were - allegations, which professionals (without a gross anti-whaling bias) investigated and cleared the workers of. And Greenpeace's goons still stole, and they still trespassed in seeking to obtain "evidence" of whale meat embezzlement by whaling crew members. The only new information is that some time ago (apparently between 2000 and 2004) some public workers accepted gifts that they should not have accepted, according to their ethics code.

While Greenpeace's allegations of theft / embezzlement remain untrue, public workers breaching their ethics code is a "problem". As I noted would happen in such circumstances - "those problems would have been tidied up" - the government has made the situation public and punished those involved - and finally as I noted - "the research whaling programme would still continue." And so it does. The then-hypothetical situation has played out more or less as I said it would – no?

What would you like readers to be taking from your post?

It’s ironic though - if Greenpeace hadn't gone and committed their own crimes, they might now finally be able to say that they had produced a "scandal" of sorts, and they would still be “clean” and perhaps with their reputation enhanced in the eyes of many even. But do they have the humility to accept as much? I doubt it.

In any case, I don’t think I am wrong to believe that it is silly for anyone to think that impropriety on the part of public workers could or should negate the undertaking of marine resource research that the Japanese government regards as necessary.
Although you are impervious to any critical thought on this issue, let me just point out that:

- As far as I could gather, the FAJ admission related to the period up to 2008 and thus included part of the GP allegations that not only were crew of the fleet lining their own pockets, FAJ officials were benefiting too, if on a smaller scale.

- Even if you are right that the admission related to a "stale" incident of many years back, it hardly supports your contention that we can trust government to effectively weed out corruption out without being closely scrutinised by civil society.

The point is this. The whole handling of this case by the authorities has done nothing to reassure a critically-minded person that the whaling industry is an above-board scientific venture which operates in accordance with the law.

Granted, the two GP staff members arguably broke the law (although intent to steal is questionable) but the vicious response to that incident obviously had much more to do with shutting them up than with upholding law and order. You are right the authorities don't have a gross anti-whaling bias, they make it seem as though they have a bias in the opposite direction. If you have seen the interviews with their whistleblowers from within whaling (one of whom testified under oath - which presumably involved verifying his identity) they certainly seemed to have reasons to believe something was amiss.

Now we hear that FAJ is accepting part of their allegations were true, and it has taken the FAJ 3 years to reach this point, while the guys have already been convicted. What else has the FAJ been hiding all along?

Anyway, you are right to be critical of received opinion but it's obvious you've gone overboard in the other direction.
Being impervious to any critical thought on the issue, I wonder whether I should bother responding more, but since it's a Saturday...

- The Japanese news sites I checked last evening when replying state that period involved was between 2000 and 2004. (2004 or 2008, "stale" as you put it or recent, who really cares?) On the other hand what I can recall of GP's allegations is that they were claiming that the meat had been "embezzled", with FAJ officials included in those "taking" it. Embezzlement versus gifting / receiving are two quite different things. And, I wonder if the public workers who received the gifts didn't simply eat the meat, as opposed to "lining their pockets" as you suggest. Either way, it's been dealt with, and good that it has.

- I don't recall ever contending that "we can trust government to effectively weed out corruption out without being closely scrutinised by civil society". It seems you may have formed that perception by yourself. What I do say is that Greenpeace by itself certainly does not represent civil society - GP is an anti-whaling organization that creates propaganda to generate donations to fund it's further operations, in this case using the proceeds of its criminal actions as the centerpiece.

Nonetheless, I think it's good that the government has dealt with the ethics code breach, and I readily acknowledge it probably wouldn't have been investigated and dealt with had Greenpeace not raised their own more serious (embellished?) allegations first. The Minster at the time (Wakabayashi I believe) said as much would happen should he confirm any dodgy things going on. The crux is that GP simply should have simply raised their allegations without needlessly breaking the law themselves, to the detriment of the owner of the whale meat and the transportation company delivering it. The box of whale meat that they stole in itself served no purpose other than to be on the cover of Greenpeace's public relations documents, as the existence of the box of whale meat in transit wasn't proof that the contents had originally been stolen.
> The point is this. The whole handling of this case by the authorities has done nothing to reassure a critically-minded person that the whaling industry is an above-board scientific venture which operates in accordance with the law.

Why does the controversy over the legitimacy / legality of research whaling come into it? I don't see that that issue and the issue of allegations of impropriety surrounding by-product whale meat are closely related. (This is really the same point I made long ago as well as yesterday.)

From the top of my head, in Australia's ICJ court document against research whaling its briefly mentioned that the resulting whale meat is sold in Japan. And it is. What happens to it subsequently however, whether it be on-sold further or gifted to someone by someone (or ultimately even eaten by me or not, etc) says nothing about the validity of the research activity from which the by-product whale meat originally derived. (The whale meat is called "by-product" for a reason.) Thus as I said, where impropriety is identified, it doesn't suddenly bring down the research itself - the obvious and natural response is to address the impropriety, and get on with it.

The only way I could reach the same conclusion as you would be if I were to start from a pre-conceived position that has already concluded that research whaling is a scam to produce whale meat so that public workers / whalers can profit from it. Therefore evidence of impropriety can be used as an argument to bring the whole thing down. It makes perfect sense, all except for there being nothing to justify the pre-conceived position, and on the contrary as I have also noted on this blog I expect that Japan will defeat Australia's case against research whaling, if Australia doesn't opt to drop the action to save face first (given the recent Wikileaks revelations, this is now even more likely).

Some more points:
- The two GP staff members did not "arguably" break the law, they *did* break the law. The case has been concluded.
- I don't see any basis for your view that "the vicious response to that incident obviously had much more to do with shutting them up than with upholding law and order"
- I don't see any basis for your view that the authorities "seem as though they have a bias in the opposite direction".

- A whistleblower believing something was amiss versus something actually being amiss to the extent that GP's criminal activities were justified are two different things. Greenpeace obviously wanted to believe there was much "amiss" whereas authorities looked at it and found that Greenpeace's allegations could not be acted upon due to lack of any legal wrongdoing, and the panel of citizens also examined the matter and confirmed this decision. The judge in the GP case too noted some "murky" areas, but evidently did not regard this as justifying GP's criminal actions. And, if I may introduce just a little "critical-thinking" myself, why a genuine whistleblower would have gone to Greenpeace of all people with his allegations is something that remains without explanation... But admittedly I am starting out from a position that says Greenpeace is un-useful in it's single-minded campaign against whaling. Someone thinking from a different position of course, might thus see it as an opportunity...
It's an original story though. Before (and as in the Aussie ICJ case) people would declare that research whaling was a cover for commercial whaling. This is a new story that says research whaling is a vehicle for the purpose of enabling public workers / whalers to get rich out of whale meat, which... apparently according to Greenpeace and other anti-whaling groups... there is also "no demand" for (sigh). Perhaps to be consistent with their current story Greenpeace should go back to their 1990's argument that whale meat is a expensive (but unnecessary) speciality item for rich Japanese salarymen to enjoy at posh Tokyo sushi bars. But of course, people who have settled themselves on a certain conclusion at the outset have little need of a consistent story that leads them there.
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