Greenpeace calls on Canon to defend the whales
Tokyo, January 24, 2008: Canon, the world's top digital camera maker and major sponsor of projects to save endangered species, has refused a Greenpeace request to condemn the Japanese government's whaling programme. The head of Canon, Fujio Mitarai, is also the head of the Japanese Business Association – Keidanren - a key position for advising the Japanese Prime Minister of negative impacts on trade resulting from government policies. Greenpeace today launched a world wide appeal calling on Canon's customers to urge the company to change it and the government's minds and add its voice to the international call for an end to the hunt. (1)
In a letter to Mr Mitarai, dated January 10th, Greenpeace asked him to endorse the following statement: "Canon is committed to building a better world for future generations, and does not support the hunting of endangered or threatened species with anything other than a camera. Canon believes the lethal whaling research programme in the Southern Ocean should be ended, and replaced with a non-lethal research programme."
Canon replied on 22 January 2008, claiming to recognise "the importance of protecting endangered wildlife." However, their letter concluded, "scientific opinion about research whaling varies... we will not sign the statement you have sent us."
"Canon sells cameras by using pictures of endangered species, including whales. Mr Mitarai has the power to help end the hoax of "research" whaling, which this year is targeting nearly 1,000 whales, including 50 endangered fin whales. He has a responsibility to speak out against it, internationally and within the highest level of government in Japan. Greenpeace is amazed that Canon wouldn't condemn the killing of endangered species for fake research," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whale Project leader.
"Canon is not directly involved in whaling and we are not calling for a boycott of Canon," said Sato. "But as the head of a corporation which promotes itself as a defender of wildlife and as a powerful economic force in Japan, Mr Mitarai must do more than just advertise endangered species, he must act to protect them and the reputation of Japanese business abroad." (2)
(2) In a recent issue of a Japanese business magazine, whale-related operations were cited as an "operational risk" for Japanese companies. Examples included the privatisation of the company owning the whaling fleet when its corporate partners, Gortons Seafood and Nissui, were forced to divest when their involvement in whaling was made public in the West by Greenpeace and its supporters. More recently, Toyota New Zealand responded to a single customer's declaration of boycott by responding that "Toyota New Zealand and Toyota Motor Corporation Japan do not condone whaling for commercial, scientific or research purposes." Shukan Toyo Keizai January 26, 2008 and http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominionpost/4331309a26386.html
(3) To maintain its independence, Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments or corporations but relies on contributions from individual supporters and foundation grants.
(4) The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is currently in the Southern Ocean, having spent the last 13 days stopping the Japanese whaling fleet from hunting.