Visiting Japanese anti-whalers unite with Australians to protest against whaling

15:21, February 13, 2011      

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A crowd of about 100 Greenpeace supporters and Japanese anti-whaling activists gathered in Yarralumla of Canberra to protest against whaling activities, Australia's media reported on Sunday.

Japanese Greenpeace activists Toru Suzuki and Junichi Sato, known as the "Tokyo two", intercepted a box of whale meat from Japanese whaling ship the Nisshin Maru, after receiving a tip-off that the meat was being smuggled illegally to be sold on the black market.

The pair gave the meat to Japanese as evidence, which initially triggered an investigation. But the investigation was quickly shut down, and the pair arrested and charged with theft. They received two-year suspended sentences in September 2010, which they plan to appeal.

Suzuki, who is visiting Australia for five days, on Friday night spoke to crowd in Canberra about the changing perception of whaling in Japan.

"There is a shift in public perception, but it is slow," he said, quoted by Canberra Times.

"You have to understand the Japanese people do not like to be outspoken ... It is difficult to find political leadership for the issue. (However), whale meat demand has dropped."

He said Japanese mainstream media was weak and social media had not galvanized issues popular with youth as it had in other countries.

During the protest in Canberra, local Greens Member of the Legislative Assembly Shane Rattenbury spoke at length about his own experiences combating whaling in the Southern Ocean before his election to the Australia Capital Territory Assembly.

"It's not about culture, it's not about tradition ... it's about sending industrial-sized vessels to the Southern Ocean to slaughter whales and it needs to be stopped now," he told the crowd.

Australian Greenpeace chief executive Linda Selvey accused the Japanese Government of fully underwriting the annual slaughter.

During the weekend, Suzuki has met Australian Coalition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt, federal water minister Tony Burke, deputy Liberal party leader Julie Bishop and Greens leader Bob Brown.

A meeting was also held with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd's advisers.

Suzuki told The Australian newspaper that Australia had been right to delay its action against Japanese whalers in the International Court of Justice in 2009, because Japan had a new government at the time.

However, he now urges Australian senior figures from both political parties to pursue the case vigorously.

Source: Xinhua
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