For Immediate Release
Jane Kochersperger, Greenpeace U.S.A. Media Officer, + 1 202 680 3798 cell
Phil Kline, Greenpeace U.S.A. Senior Oceans Campaigner, + 1 202 271 6710
Greenpeace Issues Appeal Against Japanese Government Censorship
Secrecy Clouds Taxpayer-Funded and Scientifically Bankrupt Whaling Program
TOKYO - Greenpeace today lodged an appeal against government censorship, calling on the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) to release uncensored copies of whale meat sales documents obtained by Greenpeace through a 2008 Freedom of Information request.
The documents are supposed to detail whale meat sales as well as contracts between the FAJ and the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR). However, the documents released on January 19 by the FAJ of this year were so heavily redacted that they were rendered worthless.
"These blacked-out documents represent the level of secrecy surrounding the Government-funded whaling program," said Jun Hoshikawa, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director. "They are symbolic of the FAJ's willingness to breach its own promise of transparency and accountability."
Co-signed by Shokichi Kina, an Upper House Diet member from the Democratic Party of Japan, Greenpeace's formal appeal comes as Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, known as the Tokyo Two, prepare for the next stage of their court case in Aomori. The two are on trial for exercising their duty as concerned citizens and exposing wrongdoing inside a public organization.
Despite the current economic crisis, the FAJ continues to subsidize the ICR's so-called scientific whaling expeditions to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to the tune of ¥500 million (US$5 million) a year. Taxpayers are footing the bill for this unprofitable enterprise, yet the FAJ has denied the public the right to know how their money is being spent.
"The public has an overriding right to information on misconduct by government officials. By exposing an embezzlement ring inside the Japanese whaling fleet, the Tokyo Two acted within the long-standing traditions of international human rights, and in the best interests of the Japanese public," said international human rights lawyer Richard Harvey.
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