Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

SSCS_EC_0196192Photo: Eric Cheng/Sea ShepherdThe Japanese government has turned the entire whaling and dolphin killing controversy into a farcical comedy of errors, overkill, brutality and silliness.

Last week the Mainichi newspaper of Japan ran an article on the abuses of the Tsunami Relief Fund.

This is an excerpt:

A legislator elected from an area hit by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami is lamenting that "termites are swarming over funds set aside for the restoration of disaster-hit areas, and diverting much of the money to projects irrelevant to disaster recovery." He is talking about projects such as those that make government buildings quake-resistant, the purchase of weapons for the Self-Defense Forces, research on nuclear fusion and subsidies for artists' overseas performances.

On Sept. 9, the "NHK Special" program aired by the public broadcaster reported that funds set aside for disaster recovery projects had been diverted to anti-terrorism and anti-Sea Shepherd measures, amazing residents of disaster-ravaged areas. The week the Japan Times also reported the following:

Last December there was a mild eruption of indignation when it was reported that some of the money earmarked for reconstruction of areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 would go to protect research whaling from interventionists like Sea Shepherd.  Greenpeace and a few other organizations claimed the use of these funds for such a purpose was improper, but the fisheries ministry insisted it was perfectly in line with the policy set forth when the reconstruction budgets were approved, since whaling was integral to the economies of some communities in the disaster-hit area.

The controversy quickly faded. Though anyone familiar with the workings of the bureaucracy might have seen a red flag go up, no mainstream news service at the time made an effort to learn whether or not there was something worth investigating further.  Finally almost a year later, people in Japan are now realizing how their government has failed to direct the relief funds to the people who need relief. Instead they have given money to completely unconnected projects including subsidizing the whaling industry.

In Taiji, the Mayor has barricaded tsunami evacuation routes to prevent the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians from getting close to the cove where the dolphins are slaughtered.

With respect to Sea Shepherd, the government has allocated funds to P.R. campaigns against Sea Shepherd and to campaigns to harass Sea Shepherd in the courts.  The Japanese whalers (ICR) filed for a preliminary injunction in a Seattle court to prevent Sea Shepherd from intervening against their whaling activities in the Southern Ocean. Their petition to the court was denied but with millions of dollars in their anti-Sea Shepherd war chest, they have thrown more money at the case by filing for an appeal.

Tsunami relief funds have also been used to influence Costa Rica to bring charges against me over a decade old incident where my crew and I stopped an illegal shark finning operation in Guatemalan waters. In addition Japan lobbied Germany to agree to extradite me to Japan.

Millions of dollars are being spent to provide extra policing measures at Taiji and beefed up security measures for the Southern Ocean whaling operations.

Aside from the horrendously cruel massacre of innocent and defenseless whales and dolphins, the fact that money sent to help legitimate victims of the tsunami and the earthquake is being used for purposes completely unrelated to the disaster is a shameful disgrace.  The Japanese government has displayed that they have not a shred of decency in their approach to helping their own citizens.

Japanese people are still homeless and in the face of that, the government spends money to defend whaling off the coast of Antarctica. Japanese people who lost their families and all that they owned receive nothing as the Japanese government fixates on stopping the people trying to stop the horror of the mass slaughter of dolphins at Taiji.

We have people risking their lives and freedom to save dolphins and whales from being ruthlessly exterminated by people who are selfishly taking the money from the victims of the 2011 disaster. These few hundred whalers and dolphins killers clearly are viewed as more valuable members of Japanese society than the tens of thousands of people impacted by the tsunami and the earthquake.  It appears that Japanese foreign policy is now being driven by pride, spite and retribution. Instead of focusing on real problems and financing real solutions to help the tsunami victims, Japan has decided to demonize Sea Shepherd as a way to refocus the anger and the frustration of Japanese citizens away from the government and towards Sea Shepherd.

In many ways, the Japanese government is acting as childishly as the North Korean government in ignoring the plight of their own people to vent their hatred towards foreign outsiders. The Cove Guardians have been threatened by the Japanese right wing and the Yakusa (Japanese mafia) and there are even rumors going around in Japan that the government has hired Blackwater to advise them on how to deal with Sea Shepherd.

It really is quite amazing that Japan has allocated some thirty million dollars to shutting down Sea Shepherd. All we wish to do is to save the lives of dolphins and whales and to end the cruel slaughter of these intelligent and socially complex sentient beings. Simply because we are compassionate, Japan is treating us like we are dreaded terrorists threatening the very foundations of the Japanese government and culture.

The people from around the world who contributed so generously to the relief fund for the victims of the tsunami never dreamt that their money would go to support the massacre of dolphins and the illegal slaughter of whales in the waters off Antarctica.  Because they cared for the lives of the Japanese people, the people of the world gave generously. Because the Japanese government could not care less about their own people, they stole that money and gave it to whale and dolphin killers.

Money meant for life was simply derailed towards supporting death.

There can be no honor in this.

Link: Mainichi News

Link: The Japan Times

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