Greenpeace activists challenge Japanese government censorship

A recent article in the satirical newspaper The Onion satirised US government censorship with a headline CIA Realizes It’s Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years – brilliant… and bitterly funny, because this kind of ridiculous censorship, and the even more outlandish publishing of it makes one wonder what the point of “freedom of information” request is at all.
Take the photo above – it’s of my colleague and friend Junichi Sato, currently on trial in Japan for “stealing” whale meat, after he had reported what he thought was a crime to the Tokyo Public Prosecutor. The documents are, in fact, concerning the whaling sales of meat from minke whales, caught during the Japan’s whaling programme in the Southern Ocean. Hardly, you’d think, the stuff of national security concerns. You can read more about that here…

It’s fast heading for a year now since I sat in a press briefing in Tokyo, Japan, while fellow Greenpeace activist Junichi stood at the top of the room, showing a box of whale meat to the media that proved that a government-funded whaling operation was being embezzled by the crew of the whaling ships. It’s been an intense 10 months since then – Junichi and fellow activist Toru Suzuki were arrested and held for 26 days without charge, the Greenpeace Japan office was raided by police, and the long wait for justice began. The second pre-trial hearing took place today – you can read more of it on the blog I put together on Making Waves, Tokyo Two: Watchdogs of Democracy
The Whale Meat Scandal Part II »

Chief Bottle Washer at Blather
Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.


  1. Hi daev!
    If I go to Greenpeace’s offices, steal property, then some weeks later hand the stolen property to the police to expose what I claim is illegality, is that my democratic right, or am I a lunatic thief?

  2. Hi David,
    Well, I don’t know you, so I can’t comment on the lunatic bit, but in terms of the thievery, it would depend, in the eyes of the law, whether you were actually *stealing* the property, as you suggest, or if you were removing it as evidence of a crime being committed.
    As for your some weeks later – in the case of the Greenpeace investigation, the whale meat was found in the course of this investigation, which still had some weeks to run (in terms of interviewing whistleblowers etc.). The whale meat, and this other evidence was then delivered, as a package, to the Tokyo Public Prosecutor. Check out the links to the documents above, it explains it all.

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