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Investigation ordered into Greenpeace claims of stolen Japanese whale meat

Tokyo, May 20, 2008

The Tokyo district Public Prosecutor has confirmed that there will be an investigation into allegations made by Greenpeace of large scale embezzlement of whale meat from the Japanese-government-subsidised Southern Ocean whaling programme.

On May 15th, Greenpeace campaigners produced as partial evidence of the corruption 23.5 kilos of whale meat, which was hidden in one of four boxes been sent by a crew member to his home, disguised as personal effects. A four-month investigation by Greenpeace also highlighted claims by informers that government-appointed officials from the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) and the whaling fleet operators, Kyodo Senpaku are aware of the theft of the meat and local pubs and meat traders expect to receive whale meat direct from the factory ship Nisshin Maru well in advance of the official government release of stocks at the end of June.

16TH APRIL 2008, AOMORI, JAPAN - Part of the 23.5 kgs of  stolen whale meat uncovered in an box of crew personal possessions, marked as “CARDBOARD” and offloaded from the Nisshin Maru whaling factory ship. The large scale theft of whale meat from the operation was revealed following a four-month greenpeace undercover investigation.
photo: greenpeace

"We are delighted that the Public Prosecutor has begun this investigation and we will cooperate in every way possible to ensure that it is a full investigation, to the highest levels and not simply the scapegoating of a few individual crew members," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Whales Campaign coordinator. "While the investigation is underway, the government has no option but to now immediately suspend any whaling permits to the ICR and Kyodo Senpaku, as well as stop the taxpayer's subsidy to the programme." Sato added.

Kyodo Senpaku officials have claimed that the meat is simply "souvenirs" given to the crew by the company at the end of the expedition, but there is clear evidence -- including false declarations on the whale meat box, where the contents where claimed to be cardboard -- that the stolen meat is taken in addition to the free packages handed out by the company.

14TH APRIL 2008, TOKYO, JAPAN - Greenpeace Japan whale campaign coordiator Junichi Sato, holding a banner in front of the Nisshin Maru whaling factory ship with a banner reading “ IS THIS REALLY RESEARCH?” While crew members offload personal boxes, some containing stolen whale meat, following the japanese southern ocean whaling expedition. The large scale theft of whale meat of whale meat from the operation was revealed following a four-month greenpeace undercover investigation.
photo: greenpeace

Additional allegations from informers that require investigation include: throwing tonnes of whale meat overboard daily because they did not have processing capacity for the increased quotas; cancerous tumours being found and cut out of whales and the remaining meat processed for public sale; and targeted hunts to ensure maximum catch, not random "sampling" as required by the research permits.

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