A Japanese court today delivered its verdict in the trial of our two anti-whaling activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki. The 'Tokyo Two' activists have been handed an unjust sentence for uncovering widespread corruption in Japan's Southern Ocean whaling programme industry. Instead of the industry being investigated, the activists have been punished with a one-year jail term, suspended for three years.
While the two men and their families have avoided jail- time, the conviction of theft and trespass is a harsh punishment for the attempt to speak out against corruption in the whaling industry. and wholly disproportionate given the public interest served by Junichi and Toru's peaceful investigation. Junichi and Toru were acting in the public interest when they undertook their peaceful investigation into embezzlement in the taxpayer-funded whaling program.
Responding to the verdict, Junichi Sato said, "While the court acknowledged that there were questionable practices in the whaling industry, it did not recognise the right to expose these, as is guaranteed under international law."
"This sentence is totally disproportionate and completely undeserved. We set out to reveal the truth about the government's whaling programme, but instead have been punished. Meanwhile, those behind the misuse of public money walk free," said Toru Suzuki.
The court -case has been widely condemned as unfair and politically motivated. The United Nations raised concerns that the human rights of the two Japanese activists may have been violated.
"Activists are not criminals, and to treat them as such has a chilling effect in society, undermining the quality of democracy."
"The freedom to peacefully expose wrongdoing is not only a crucial part of any democracy, it is a right that must be defended. Greenpeace will continue to make this case a global priority until this unjust conviction is overturned," said Greenpeace International Executive Director Dr. Kumi Naidoo, who travelledin to Japan to hearfor the verdict.