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Cablegate: Whaling: Greenpeace Japan Activists Arrested

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RR RUEHMJ
DE RUEHKO #1758 1780537
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260537Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5414
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0535
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2101
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1036
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2689
RUEHRK/AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK 0167
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 1201
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0667
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 4465
RUEHMJ/AMEMBASSY MAJURO 0082
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 1078
RHMFIUU/USFJ
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS TOKYO 001758


STATE FOR D, G and OES/OA - MHAYES/JFIELD AND EAP/J
USDOC FOR NOAA/NMFS - US IWC COMMISSIONER HOGARTH AND McCARTY

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EFIS KSCA IWC ETRD JA
SUBJECT: WHALING: GREENPEACE JAPAN ACTIVISTS ARRESTED


1. (U) Japanese police arrested two Greenpeace activists June 20
for trespassing and theft that occurred in connection with what the
NGO claimed was an investigation of ongoing theft of whale meat by
crew members of Japan's research whaling fleet. According to press
reports, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki of Greenpeace Japan are
suspected of breaking into an Aomori (northern Japan) branch office
of trucking company Seino Transportation April 16 and stealing a
package being shipped to the home of one of the whaling fleet's
crew. Greenpeace claimed in a press conference May 22 that the
package contained whale meat that the crew member had illicitly
taken from the ship. Greenpeace asserted the incident was part of
an on going practice of crew members siphoning off part of each
year's take for their own use/profit.

2. (U) Greenpeace Japan insisted its activists had done nothing
illegal and that it had taken the package as evidence of its claim
that the crew itself had stolen the meat. In May, the NGO filed a
complaint with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office against
12 crew members of the whaling vessel, the "Nisshin Maru," alleging
they stole at least 47 boxes of whale meat. The Prosecutors Office,
however, decided to drop the case against the crew members June 20,
saying, Kyodo Senpaku, the whaling fleet's owner and employer of the
crews, had bought the whale meat and gave it to the crew members as
"souvenirs," according to NHK news reports.

3. (U) While the Japanese press has generally reported the case
matter-of-factly, a June 21 Hokkaido Shimbun editorial raised
questions about the actions of both Greenpeace and GOJ authorities.
The newspaper stated Greenpeace's argument that entering Seino
Transportation's office and taking the box of whale meat were all
parts of its own investigation is not justifiable. However, the
Hokkaido Shimbun also noted even criminal experts are divided as to
the legal merits of the case. The article states some suggest the
arrest of the activists is designed to be a warning in the run up to
the G8 Toyako Summit. If that is the case, it is a problem, the
newspaper argued.

4. (SBU) Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) officer Tsuyoshi Iwata
told emboffs the case is in the hands of the police and that the FAJ
has no comment. Acting head of Greenpeace Japan Takumi Kobayashi
told emboffs its investigation of the crew taking whale meat was the
NGO's project, but it was the two activists' decision on the spot to
take the package. After consulting with its lawyers, however,
Greenpeace Japan decided to argue that the two activists' action was
legal and gave them approval after the fact.

SCHIEFFER

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