The Tokyo Two are Greenpeace anti-whaling activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, who were arrested for stealing whale meat which they believed was embezzled, from a shipping depot in Aomori Prefecture, Japan in 2008.
In 2008, Sato and Suzuki, acting on a tip from an informant who claimed to be a member of a whaling crew,intercepted a box of whale meat at a Seino Transportation Company delivery depot in Aomori, and handed it over to the police as evidence of a theft ring within the whaling industry. Japan says the industry is for scientific research but receives criticism for the meat being sold in shops and restaurants. Sato and Suzuki held a news conference, intending to expose what they called embezzlement of whale meat. An investigation was opened, but no charges were brought against the whalers after the investigators found that the meat was intended as souvenirs and was not sold. Seino submitted a breakage report to Aomori Police.
About a month after the news conference, Sato and Suzuki were arrested and charged with theft and trespassing. According to the activists, they were detained by police for 26 days, and were held without charge for 23 days.During that time, they also said they were questioned without a lawyer, tied to chairs, and interrogated for up to 12 hours a day. According to a United Nations human rights group, their treatment by Japanese authorities was arbitrary and contravened elements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International also expressed its concern about their treatment and suggested that the detention and charges against Sato and Suzuki may have been aimed at intimidating activists. During his interrogation by police, Suzuki claims he was compared to the Aum Supreme Truth group, which committed poison gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. The two activists faced up to 18 months in prison. Sato stated on June 24, 2010, that, while he believes that he and Suzuki will be convicted, he has no regrets, because he believes that the "wrong-doing" had to be exposed.
On September 6, 2010, they were found guilty of trespassing and of stealing whale meat they believed to have been illegally diverted from whaling research for personal profit. They were sentenced to one year in prison by the Aomori District Court, but the sentences were suspended for three years.They appealed the ruling on the basis that activists should not be punished for uncovering wrongdoing. On July 12, 2011, the Sendai Appellate Court rejected their appeal.
Prior to the alleged theft of whale meat, at a news conference outside the 2007 International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, Sato expressed support for aggressive confrontations between anti-whaling groups and whalers in the Southern Ocean. Sato now believes that anti-whaling organizations should not engage in annual confrontations with whaling expeditions in the Southern Ocean, and should instead focus on "campaigning with words". Furthermore, he argues that outside groups which wish to change whaling in Japan need to understand that any change that happens will occur slowly, but that such changes are possible and currently occurring.
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning network, founded in Canada in 1971 by Irving Stowe and Dorothy Stowe, immigrant environmental activists from the United States. Greenpeace states its goal is to "ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity" and focuses its campaigning on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues. It uses direct action, lobbying, research, and ecotage to achieve its goals.
Whaling is the hunting of whales for their usable products such as meat and blubber, which can be turned into a type of oil that became increasingly important in the Industrial Revolution. It was practiced as an organized industry as early as 875 AD. By the 16th century, it had risen to be the principal industry in the Basque coastal regions of Spain and France. The whaling industry then spread throughout the world and became increasingly profitable in terms of trade and resources. Some regions of the world's oceans, along the animals' migration routes, had a particularly dense whale population, and became the targets for large concentrations of whaling ships, and the industry continued to grow well into the 20th century. The depletion of some whale species to near extinction led to the banning of whaling in many countries by 1969, and to an international cessation of whaling as an industry in the late 1980s.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is a specialised regional fishery management organisation, established under the terms of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) to "provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry".
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is a non-profit, marine conservation activism organization based in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Washington, in the United States. Sea Shepherd employs direct action tactics to achieve its goals, most famously by deploying its fleet of ships to track, report on and actively impede the work of fishing vessels believed to be engaged in illegal and unregulated activities causing the unsustainable exploitation of marine life.
Paul Franklin Watson is a Canadian-American conservation and environmental activist, who founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an anti-poaching and direct action group focused on marine conservation activism. The tactics used by Sea Shepherd have attracted opposition, with the group accused of eco-terrorism by both the Japanese government and Greenpeace. Watson is a citizen of Canada and the United States.
Taiji is a town located in Higashimuro District, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 August 2021, the town had an estimated population of 2960 in 1567 households and a population density of 510 persons per km². The total area of the town is 255.23 square kilometres (98.54 sq mi). Taiji is the smallest municipality by area in Wakayama Prefecture.
Japanese whaling, in terms of active hunting of whales, is estimated by the Japan Whaling Association to have begun around the 12th century. However, Japanese whaling on an industrial scale began around the 1890s when Japan started to participate in the modern whaling industry, at that time an industry in which many countries participated. Japan resumed commercial whaling in July 2019, and since then whaling activities have been confined to its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.
Robert Lorne Hunter was a Canadian environmentalist, journalist, author and politician. He was a member of the Don't Make a Wave Committee in 1969, and a co-founder of Greenpeace in 1971 and its first president. He led the first on-sea anti-whaling campaigns in the world, against Russian and Australian whalers, which helped lead to the ban on commercial whaling. He campaigned against nuclear testing, the Canadian seal hunt and later, climate change with his book Thermageddon: Countdown to 2030. He was named by Time as one of the "Eco-Heroes" of the 20th century.
Arctic Sunrise is an ice-strengthened vessel operated by Greenpeace. The vessel was built in Norway in 1975 and has a gross tonnage of 949, a length of 50.5 metres (166 ft) and a maximum speed of 13 knots. She is classified by Det Norske Veritas as a "1A1 icebreaker". The ship is powered by a single MaK marine diesel engine.
A whaler or whaling ship is a specialized vessel, designed or adapted for whaling: the catching or processing of whales.
MY Ady Gil was a 78-foot (24 m), wave-piercing trimaran originally created as part of a project to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a powerboat. Powered by biodiesel fuel, the vessel was also capable of running on regular diesel fuel. It used other eco-friendly materials such as vegetable oil lubricants, hemp composites, and non-toxic anti-fouling, and had features such as bilge-water filters.
Whaling in Iceland began with spear-drift hunting as early as the 12th century, and continued in a vestigial form until the late 19th century, when other countries introduced modern commercial practices. Today, Iceland is one of a handful of countries that formally object to an ongoing moratorium established by the International Whaling Commission in 1986, and that still maintain a whaling fleet. One company remains concentrated on hunting fin whales, largely for export to Japan, while the only other one previously hunted minke whales for domestic consumption until 2020, as the meat was popular with tourists. In 2018, Hvalur hf whalers killed a rare blue whale/fin whale hybrid.
Whaling in Norway involves hunting of minke whales for use as animal and human food in Norway and for export to Japan. Whale hunting has been a part of Norwegian coastal culture for centuries, and commercial operations targeting the minke whale have occurred since the early 20th century. Some still continue the practice in the modern day, within annual quotas.
The Nisshin Maru (日新丸) is the primary vessel of the Japanese whaling fleet and is the world's only whaler factory ship. It was the research base ship for the Institute of Cetacean Research for 2002 to 2007. It has a tonnage of 8,145 GT and is the largest member and flagship of the five-ship whaling fleet, headed by leader Shigetoshi Nishiwaki. The ship is based in Japan in Shimonoseki harbor and is owned by Tokyo-based Kyodo Senpaku, which is a subsidiary of the Institute of Cetacean Research.
The MV Steve Irwin was the 59-metre (194 ft) flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and was used in their direct action campaigns against whaling and against illegal fisheries activities. The vessel was built in 1975 and formerly served as a Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency conservation enforcement patrol boat, the FPV Westra, for 28 years.
The 1986 Hvalur sinkings occurred in Iceland's Reykjavík harbour in November 1986, when anti-whaling activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society sank the unoccupied whaling vessels, Hvalur 6 and Hvalur 7, and sabotaged a whale processing station in Hvalfjörður. The ships were two of the nation's fleet of four and were eventually raised, but have not gone on a whale hunt since and were dragged onto dry land. Repairs have still not yet been made to the ships some 36 years later. The factory was the country's only processing facility.
Whale meat, broadly speaking, may include all cetaceans and all parts of the animal: muscle (meat), organs (offal), skin (muktuk), and fat (blubber). There is relatively little demand for whale meat, compared to farmed livestock. Commercial whaling, which has faced opposition for decades, continues today in very few countries, despite whale meat being eaten across Western Europe and colonial America previously. However, in areas where dolphin drive hunting and aboriginal whaling exist, marine mammals are eaten locally as part of a subsistence economy: the Faroe Islands, the circumpolar Arctic, other indigenous peoples of the United States, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, some of villages in Indonesia and in certain South Pacific islands.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society engages in various demonstrations, campaigns, and tactical operations at sea and elsewhere, including conventional protests and direct actions to protect marine wildlife. Sea Shepherd operations have included interdiction against commercial fishing, shark poaching and finning, seal hunting and whaling. Many of their activities have been called piracy or terrorism by their targets and by the ICRW. Sea Shepherd says that they have taken more than 4,000 volunteers on operations over a period of 30 years.
Whale conservation refers to the conservation of whales.
Anti-whaling refers to actions taken by those who seek to end whaling in various forms, whether locally or globally in the pursuit of marine conservation. Such activism is often a response to specific conflicts with pro-whaling countries and organizations that practice commercial whaling and/or research whaling, as well as with indigenous groups engaged in subsistence whaling. Some anti-whaling factions have received criticism and legal action for extreme methods including violent direct action. The term anti-whaling may also be used to describe beliefs and activities related to these actions.