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Japan: Bloggers criticize Greenpeace over whale-meat theft

The reputation of Greenpeace Japan appears to have dropped a few notches this week, with news that the organization, in order to expose the theft of whale meat by crew members of a whaling research ship, itself stole meat to use as evidence of the crime. In order to seize packages of whale meat, members of Greenpeace Japan admitted to having entered a delivery company's distribution center in Tokyo on April 15th without permission. In total Greenpeace found 23.5 kilograms of whale meat, worth 100,000 to 300,000 yen (or roughly $1000-$3000 USD), smuggled by 12 crewmembers of Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha, Ltd.


News broadcast about the Greenpeace whale-meat revelation on May 15th

The claim by a lawyer representing Greenpeace that: “The group's acts [such as trespassing] weren't illegal because they were attempting to uncover alleged theft” did not go over well with bloggers, however, who questioned the double-standard of committing a crime to expose another crime.

Blogger Kiyotani writes:

捕鯨関係者の脇も甘かったわけですが、このような行為が法治国家で許されるわけはありません。
そのような主張が通るのであれば我々はグリーンピースやその顧問弁護士の犯罪を暴くためには事務所に押し入って書類を押収したり、グリーンピースのメンバーや弁護士を拉致監禁して、自白を強要することも「合法」ということになります。
 今回の騒動ではグリーンピースが環境テロリストかつ犯罪集団であることが明らかになったわけです。当局は破防法をこの団体に適用すべきです。極左暴力集団やオウム真理教と大同小異です。

The whaling authorities were also pretty lax, but this kind of action [by Greenpeace] cannot be allowed in a law-abiding nation.
If this kind of claim is allowed to pass, then it follows that it would be “legal”, in order to expose the crimes of Greenpeace and their legal advisors, to break into their offices, take Greenpeace members and their lawyers captive, and force them to confess.
In the noise surrounding this case, it has become clear that Greenpeace are ecological terrorists, a criminal group. The authorities should apply the Anti-Subversive Authorities Act to this organization. It is essentially the same as violent ultra-left groups or the Aum Shinrikyou religious group.

Blogger gootdk, meanwhile, reads the Wikipedia entry on Japanese research whaling and quotes these lines:

「捕獲調査の副産物は有効利用が条約で義務付けられている」
「一般販売のほか学校給食などの公益事業に供され、その収入は調査捕鯨の費用に充てられている」

“There is an obligation in treaties to make effective use of byproducts from research whaling”
“Apart from general sales, [such byproducts] are furnished for public operations such as in school lunches and so on, and the revenue from this is set aside for expenses of research whaling”

The blogger goes on to note that 10kg or 20kg of whale meat is more than one would need for family use. Still, the position of Greenpeace is not convincing:

だからといって、グリーンピース・ジャパンの行為が許される訳ではありません。
明らかに犯罪です。
少なくとも、この運送会社の信頼を低下させました。
両者とも、法の下間違いのないように処断されることを望みます。

But just because this is so, does not mean that the actions of Greenpeace Japan should be tolerated.
Obviously this is a crime.
At the very least, they have degraded trust in this shipping company.
I hope that both parties are judged so as to prevent mistakes of the law.

Blogger Hamayatti meanwhile agrees with the position of Greenpeace, but not with their strategy:

「グリーンピース」の主張について賛同できる面もある。しかし、捕鯨の違法性を訴えながら、自分たちが盗人をしているようなやり方では説得力もなかろう。違法は違法として処罰されるのを覚悟しての主張こそ、その決意が分かろうというもの。摘発のためだから違法ではないと主張するのは、大義のための戦争と変わりはしない。

There are aspects of the claims by Greenpeace that I agree with. However, to make appeals about the illegality of whale fishing, while at the same time themselves committing an act of robbery, I am not persuaded by this way of doing things. The claim that they were prepared for their crimes to be punished as crimes, this intention is understood. To insist that because the goal is to expose something it is not illegal, there is no difference between this and war [waged] in the name of a cause.

4 comments

  • Hi Chris,

    The activists have finally been charged. Update here.

    As to the specific comments above, I certainly consider it ethical to act (peacefully) if a crime or harm is being done. These two activists put their freedom on the line to expose corruption, and now they’re paying for it.

    To be clear, what they did was, literally, intercept a box of stolen whale meat and deliver it to the police (along with details of their investigation).

    Please feel free to read the dossier they submitted to the police for more details.

  • beachmollusc

    The accusation that GPJ members claimed against the ‘Scientific Whaling’ was rejected officially and legally. According to the official statement by the institution in charge of the whaling business, ‘a box of stolen whale meat’ was not stolen but was given as a gift for the hard-working crew member of the research vessel. It had been paid for by the company that operated the cruise. OK, it was just a manifestation of Japanese way of compensating for the long hardship on board, dedicating oneself for the research activities.

    What the GPJ members should have accused was the validity of the product of so-called scientific research, instead of such a trivial issue of byproduct-souvenir-giving by the government-subsidized activity.

    Please take a look at the following URL.
    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1657789.htm

  • Yeah, the whalers investigated themselves… And decided they’re completely innocent.

    Greenpeace Japan has been campaigning to protect whales for years. The point is that Japan’s whaling industry is corrupt and you can’t trust them. Cheating taxpayers by allowing whale meat theft is only part of it.

    Timeline and details here…

    http://greenpeace.org/whale-meat-scandal

  • taj

    Please note: the theft was not from the offices or premises of Kyodo Sempaku (whom GP was implicating) but rather from the distribution centre of an entirely unrelated shipping and transport company. They’d be in worse shape it it was the Post Office they broke into, but given that people and businesses depend on the security of their goods in shipment, breaking in and taking goods from any FedEx type warehouse, is indeed a criminal act.

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