What is Greenpeace Thinking?
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
The Greenpeace Foundation has been very irresponsible in distracting public attention away from the issue of international illegal whaling by focusing on internal corruption within the Japanese whaling industry.
Of course there is corruption within the whaling industry - it's a criminal organization.
It would be surprising if there was no corruption. And why does Greenpeace think it is their duty to expose petty theft by whalers from their bosses?
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been battling outlaw whaling operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary for years. The problem we are combating is simple. Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean is illegal and Sea Shepherd is an anti-poaching organization. The Japanese whaling industry is targeting endangered and threatened whale populations inside an internationally established whale sanctuary in violation of the regulations of the International Whaling Commission and the global moratorium on commercial whaling. Japan is in violation of the Antarctic Treaty and the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), The Canberra Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and is operating in contempt of an Australian Federal Court Order prohibiting whaling within the Australian Antarctic Territorial waters.
Instead of focusing on these international laws and regulations, Greenpeace has chosen to investigate internal corruption within the whaling industry. Towards this end, two Greenpeace members in Japan broke into a private building and removed a package of whale meat that was in a shipment from a crewmember on the Nisshin Maru to a specific address in Japan.
According to the L.A. Times, "one of the alleged thieves Junichi Sato said that no matter what, they achieved their goal of bringing the alleged whale meat scandal to public light."
"We achieved that," he said. Then he added softly: "Perhaps we overachieved."
But what did they achieve? The whaling company responded by saying no crime has been committed and that the individual crewmembers are allowed to take some whale meat for their own use. The "scandal" that Greenpeace was trying to bring to light was in fact never a scandal at all.
In response to this action, Japanese authorities charged Toru Suzuki and Junichi Sato with trespass and theft. And by doing so, Japan handed Greenpeace the perfect excuse to pull out of direct engagement with the Japanese whaling fleet to focus on the defence of the two Japanese activists.
Greenpeace was searching for a way to withdraw after the humiliating expose of their Antarctic campaign of 2006/2007 documented by the BBC in the film Battleship Antarctica.
Suzuki and Sato offered the opportunity for a much less expensive campaign and one that would bring the issue home to Japan itself. Towards this end Greenpeace began to mobilize their significant global membership to engage in a campaign to present these two Japanese Greenpeace members as martyrs for the whales, persecuted by their own government for daring to oppose whaling by their own countrymen.
The only problem was that Suzuki and Sato were not opposing illegal whaling activities by the Japanese whaling fleet. They were trying to expose internal corruption and theft by employees of the whaling company. They were acting more like self-appointed Pinkerton detectives working for the whaling company than as activists opposing illegal whaling.
The stated goal of Greenpeace was, and is to expose the Japanese whalers as corrupt. The only problem is that the world already knows that Japanese whaling is illegal and the entire whaling operation is corrupt. What Greenpeace is doing would be the equivalent of the FBI investigating internal corruption within the Mafia. The only person that could possibly benefit from such an investigation would be the Godfather. And whereas the Godfather would reject the FBI findings in favour of policing their own, the whaling bosses have rejected the Greenpeace effort in favour of unity amongst common thieves. Of course there is corruption within the Japanese whaling industry. The Union that represents the crew of the whaling ships is a Yakusa controlled Union and the Yakusa is the Japanese equivalent of the Mafia.
The question is then what is Greenpeace hoping to gain by exposing criminal activity by whalers against the whaling company. By doing so Greenpeace is distracting from the real issue which is the violation of international conservation law by the Japanese whaling fleet.
Sea Shepherd is more concerned with the theft of whales directly from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We remain focused on the criminals on the top of the criminal operation. It is simply bad policing to pick off the minions pocketing a few yen at the bottom of the racket. We have our sights set on Joji Morashita and the bosses, not on some poor swab with a flensing knife wading in blood and gore on the deck of the Nisshin Maru. Knock out the big boys and the gangster punks will follow.
The difference between Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is that Greenpeace is a protest organization and Sea Shepherd is an interventionist organization. Sea Shepherd intervenes exclusively against illegal activities. In other words we are an anti-poaching organization.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has an unblemished record of never having injured any person and never having had a felony crime conviction. We cannot justify committing a felony in pursuit of our activities. That also would be bad policing.
What has allegedly occurred in the Suzuki and Sato case appears to be the committing of felony trespass and mail theft. These two men have of course not been convicted of these crimes and they may well be acquitted and I hope they are acquitted, but there can be no excuse for Greenpeace to justify the action as legitimate. Greenpeace admits that the warehouse was broken into, and they admit that property in transit was removed. And this from the same organization that publicly condemns Sea Shepherd tactics as unacceptable. In other words, breaking and entry and theft are justified whereas according to Greenpeace the tossing of rotten butter onto a whaling ship is an act of "eco-terrorism."
Yet there have not been any charges of "eco-terrorism" against Sea Shepherd primarily because there is actually no such crime as "eco-terrorism." Tossing rotten butter onto a deck of a whaling ship is at the most a misdemeanour, IF it were to happen in national waters.
This week the Los Angeles Times ran an article about Suzuki and Sato entitled, A bitter face-off in Japan over whaling. Aside from the fact that the article by John M. Glionna was full of blatant errors of fact, it also misled the public by stating that the "The case has shifted the front lines of the war over Japan's whaling program from the frigid waters off Antarctica, where 100 whales are culled by Japan each winter, to the streets of Tokyo and the court of public opinion."
The front lines of the war over Japan's whaling program remains in Antarctica where the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has been disrupting illegal Japanese whaling operations for the last three months. Where Glionna states that 100 whales are culled by Japan, the actual number is 935 Minke plus 50 Fin whales and they are illegally slaughtered - not culled.
This article appears to have been lifted from a Greenpeace media release. Greenpeace has been using their powerful public relations machine to convince the public that defending two men charged with felony crimes for stealing whale meat from the mail represents the vanguard of the movement to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean. The reality is that it is simply a way for Greenpeace to back out of the costly, ineffective and embarrassing campaigns they have mounted in past years in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is speaking the language that the Japanese whaling industry understands and that language is economic. It all comes down to profit and loss and Sea Shepherd has been negating profits from whaling for four straight years through physical disruption of their illegal operations directly in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.
The front lines of the Whale Wars remain in the Southern Ocean - not in Japan and not in some Tokyo courthouse where the two Greenpeacers are to be tried for trespass and theft.
The Times article stated without bothering to consult with Sea Shepherd that: "The group Sea Shepherd has been accused of tactics such as firing acid, mud, nails and water cannons at the vessels."
In fact, Sea Shepherd has never fired any of these things at the whalers. We don't have water cannons. It is the Japanese vessels that fire water cannons at the Sea Shepherd crew. Not a single nail, or a speck of mud have ever been fired at a whaling ship. And as for acid, this is merely a spin by the whalers by referring to rotten butter (which stinks) as an acid. It is of course an acid but the spin is meant to conjure up the image of highly corrosive and disfiguring sulfuric acid. Rotten butter is butyric acid, as orange juice is citric acid and milk is lactic acid. The reality is that beer is more acidic than rotten butter. This article however seeks to perpetuate the misleading spin by both the whalers and by Greenpeace that Sea Shepherd utilizes violent tactics. We don't. And we also don't steal property from the mail.
The L.A. Times article also states:
Japanese officials say they are the target of emotional propaganda.
"Critics say the whale is a special animal to be protected. We'd like to treat it exactly like any other wildlife hunted worldwide, such as deer or kangaroos," (Joji) Morishita said.
"What would the Americans say if India suddenly said they should stop eating beef because the cow is special to their culture?" he asked. "That is what is happening to us."
This attempt to cast the Japanese as victims of cultural chauvinism is bogus and shallow. The whales are indeed special because they are listed as "endangered" and "threatened" and this designation is "special" by law. The killing of wildlife is also not legally allowed within the boundaries of a wildlife park of sanctuary. Morishita displays his very weak moral position by even attempting to make these comparisons.
If India were to demand that Americans stop eating cows because they were endangered and surviving in specially designated cow sanctuaries they would be acting responsibly as conservationists. This has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with international conservation law.
Source: Los Angeles Times - DISPATCH FROM TOKYO - A bitter face-off in Japan over whaling By John M. Glionna February 14, 2009