Whales, Japanese Lies, and Videotapes

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

Japan has consistently lied throughout its entire history of whaling.

In the mid-1980s, information was released that both the former Soviet Union and Japan had routinely under-reported their whaling catch statistics. In fact, each country had taken thousands of whales more than they reported between 1960 and 1980. In Japan, DNA analysis of whale meat purchased at random has revealed endangered species, including fins, blues, humpbacks, and orcas, being sold in supermarkets.

For years, Japan has denied bribing nations to vote its way at the annual meetings of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Just this week, proof was revealed that Japan has been paying the way for the Solomon Islands to participate in these meetings. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Derek Sikua confirmed what had long been suspected: Japan bought support in the IWC for its so-called "scientific" whaling program.

Canned whale meat

Speaking in Honiara in a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Sikua said the South Pacific country had not sent a representative to the IWC meeting currently underway in London. "We are not attending because usually Japan pays for our attendance, but we refused their assistance and therefore we have not gone because we can't afford it," he said.

Japan has been paying the membership fees and travel expenses and providing aid packages to Mongolia, Chad, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, and numerous other nations.

On January 15, when two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society crew members were tied with ropes to the railings and the mast of the Yusshin Maru No. 2, the spokesperson for the Japanese whalers said this was a lie and that the crew members were never tied to the railings or the mast. However, the video and photographic images released by Sea Shepherd quickly demonstrated that Sea Shepherd was telling the truth.

In February 2007, the Japanese whaling vessel Keiko Maru rammed the Sea Shepherd ship Robert Hunter and then accused Sea Shepherd of having rammed it instead. The Australian Federal Police conducted a forensic examination of our ship. The results, although not officially released, back up our version of the incident. If not, we would have been charged. We were not. Of course neither were the Japanese.

After throwing--and admitting to throwing--flash grenades at the crew of the Steve Irwin, the Japanese changed their story and called the devices harmless warning balls. They said the balls were harmless despite the fact that they injured two of our crew members.

The same day, the Japanese reported that they had fired warning shots at the Steve Irwin, but then after it was reported that Captain Paul Watson, Founder and President of Sea Shepherd, had been shot in the chest, they changed their story and denied that any warning shots had been fired.

The very same Japanese whalers who slaughter whales in the most brutal ways imaginable, and who shoot at and throw concussion grenades at whale defenders, scream eco-terrorism when some rotten butter is tossed onto their decks.

But the biggest lie of all is Japan's claim that its whaling program is legal. How can whalers target endangered whales in a whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on whaling and in contempt of an Australian Federal Court ruling and continue to insist that what they are doing is legal? The audacity of these poachers is amazing.

Then again, this is the nation that still denies the Rape of Nanking, that still denies enslaving Korean and Chinese women as "comfort women," that still denies torturing POW's during the war, that still denies destroying the rainforests of Indonesia and over-fishing the world's oceans. Japanese history is a chronicle of deceptions.

All Sea Shepherd campaigns are videotaped, and all of our actions are recorded. The Japanese can say what they like about our tactics, but the truth is in the tapes. We don't ask people to believe what we say, we ask people to judge the events by what they see.

This year, our campaigns have been documented independently by the Animal Planet Network. Sea Shepherd trusts that Animal Planet's presentation will be impartial and will convey the confrontations in the Southern Ocean accurately.