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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



Some other docs from the ICJ case

Some docs from the Written Proceedings section


Interesting initial comments out of the Hague

The SMH has an article on early developments at the ICJ court case.

Australia has warned Japan's "scientific" whaling is a dangerous precedent with potentially catastrophic effects, as the case to end the hunt opened at the International Court of Justice.
Oh, do tell.
Australian Government counsel Bill Campbell, QC, told the court that according to Japan's interpretation of the global whaling treaty, any member country would be free to decide its own scientific kill.
That is precisely what the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling says in the first part of Article VIII.

"I ask the court to consider the consequences if the other 88 member states of the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling had the capacity and conducted whaling on the same basis as Japan," Mr Campbell said.

Japan asserted its right to take up to 935 minke whales in the Antarctic, he said. "If each were to act the same way, a total of 83,215 minke whales a year would be killed.
"If one took Japan's view of the convention this would be entirely permissible. Of course, the consequences of taking 83,215 minke whales a year would be catastrophic for the minke whale population but in Japan's view would be legal."
Australia is asking the ICJ to consider a both hypothetical and very implausible scenario that is entirely distinct from reality.

Firstly, none of the other 88 (is it?) contracting governments to the ICRW do have the capacity to conduct the sort of research that Japan is undertaking. Only Japan has both the equipment and the personnel it requires (and even Japan's equipment is get dated).

Secondly, Australia's implausible scenario overlooks the obvious feature of the ICRW - that it is an international agreement which is meant to facilitate cooperation amongst contracting governments who share a common goal. It is absurd to suggest that 89 contracting governments of the same international whaling agreement would all go off independently and conduct similar lethal research programs bringing a grand total take to 83,215 whales. Why would they even have an agreement if that were their intention? A basic assumption underlying the notion that contracting governments will cooperate with one another is that they share the same goals. But this is not true at the International Whaling Commission, which has been stacked with anti-whaling nations in recent years. The goal of the anti-whaling nations is to prevent the whaling nations from being able to achieve results in accordance with the stated aims the ICRW, which includes conservation and utilization of whale resources. Australia has frequently stated as much quite publicly with respect to it's own stance.

Thirdly, in terms of the ICRW, the implausible scenario Australia suggests should be considered to be legal - because the ICRW text does allow for it, in legal terms. But as I understand the remit of a court, it is not to make the law, but to judge what is and is not in accordance with it. The ICRW text does say that any Contracting Government may grant special permits to it's nationals and set the number of whales to be taken as it sees fit. It has long been evident that Australia does not like this provision, but that is no justification for the ICJ to rule in Australia's favour. On the contrary it suggests that Australia ought to cease to be a Contracting Government if it can no longer agree to the terms of the agreement to which it is adhered.

Mr Campbell said the court meeting in The Hague had an important opportunity to decide for the world what did, and did not constitute scientific activity, and Australia did not believe Japan's whaling was scientific.
Although Campbell talked about dangerous precedents, just imagine if the ICJ were to rule in Australia's favour. Not only would the text of an international agreement have been summarily ignored, but it would likely possibly have repercussions for other areas where similar scientific methods are deployed, such as fisheries stock assessment.
"In short,  Japan seeks to cloak its ongoing commercial whaling in the lab coat of science," he said.
"It simply is not science."
Not particularly persuasive argumentation is it - just forceful statement of Australia's long held stance.
An American mathematician has been named as a surprise witness for Australia in the case.
The choice of University of Southern California fisheries stock assessment expert Marc Mangel indicates Australia will be attacking the fundamental scientific basis of the Japanese program.
This was the most interesting thing in the story. Although Australia proclaims that what Japan is doing is not science, they have produced a fisheries stock assessment expert to make an argument. Fisheries stock assessment science is precisely the field of science that Japan's research programmes aim to contribute to (and indeed the IWC's own scientific committee has utilised Japan's data for such purposes). One of course assumes that the expert will attack aspects of what Japan does. However in doing so they will be drawing much attention to the fact that Japan's research does bear a great deal of resemblance to stock assessment research - which is no coincidence because that is what Japan has said it is, all along. But any deficiencies in the Japanese research that the expert may point to could not, to my mind, result in the programme being judged to be fundamentally commercial in nature, rather than research compliant with the requirements of the ICRW. With an entire research institute in Japan dedicated to the research since it began, and even the IWC's Scientific Committee making use of Japan's data, it is impossible to imagine any sane judgement by which the ICJ could overlook such facts and focus only on the "commercial" elements of the JARPA II programme - which themselves are required by the ICRW itself.
Professor Mangel's detailed scientific report is to go before the ICJ, along with evidence from Australia's Nick Gales, one of the world's leading proponents of non-lethal whale research.
Dr. Gales is unlikely to be able to produce a set of like-for-like data equivalent to what Japan has gathered with non-lethal whale research methods. If, for example, Dr. Gales were able to produce multi-year set of whale sample' age data (such as that which the IWC's Scientific Committee has used, offering thanks to Japan for provision of the data in the process) he might have a case, but in reality he has no such data sets to show.
On the Japanese side, only one witness has been notified to the court - a Norwegian expert on whaling, Lars Walloe.
Professor Walloe designed the legal Norwegian commercial whaling program, which is carried out under formal objection to the International Whaling Commission's moratorium on commercial whaling.
Best of luck to the Japanese team and Professor Walloe.



ICJ: Australia versus Japan set to get underway tomorrow

For those of you with the free time, check out this document for details of where to watch the proceedings at the ICJ, live. Apparently there will be recordings available on demand subsequently as well.




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 and 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.




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.





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 today:
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.



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