December 9, 2008

Greenpeace Wants To Change Japanese Opinion Of Whaling

Greenpeace on Tuesday started a campaign to change Japanese domestic opinion against whaling.

The group is lashing out at the country for arresting activists for speaking out against illegal whaling practices.

"If Japan is going to start rounding up political prisoners for the crime of defending whales; they're going to have to arrest a whole heaping lot of us," said one Greenpeace blogger named Josef.

A group of executive directors from five Greenpeace national offices have traveled to Japan to deliver a letter Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan.

The letter handover came weeks after Japan's whaling fleet set off for the Antarctic for an annual hunt aimed at catching about 900 whales, which Tokyo says is carried out for scientific research purposes.

"Each year we put more and more emphasis on the campaign in Japan," said Steve Shallhorn of Greenpeace Australia. "We are asking the people of Japan to ask their politicians to end the subsidy to this outdated industry," he added.

Greenpeace has launched an online petition with the creed: "if defending whales is a crime, arrest me."

Activists were also set to protest outside Japanese embassies abroad, Greenpeace said.

Japan officially stopped whaling under a 1986 global moratorium, but continues to take hundreds of whales in what it calls a research program. Much of the meat ends up on dinner tables.

In June, the Japanese government arrested Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki for exposing an attempted cover-up by the Japanese government. The two Greenpeace activists claimed that Japan's research program was simply commercial whaling in disguise.

Greenpeace decided to take an alternative approach by trying to change domestic opinion of the issue rather than send a ship to chase the fleet in the Southern Ocean, which caused diplomatic ruffles last year.

"When the government is wrong, it is important to raise your voice," said Ryuhei Kawada, known for battling the government after he and others became infected with HIV through tainted blood products. "The United States and Australia have a history of whaling, but Japan continues even now. We should think about this from the point of view of the environment."


Image Caption: Greenpeace activists protest at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2008. Activists presented themselves in prison jumpsuits calling for the end to the political persecution of Greenpeace anti-whaling activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, who have been detained for 172 days after exposing the embezzlement of whale meat from the taxpayer-funded whaling fleet. © Greenpeace / Robert Meyers


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