We Need to Stand Up to Japan

The below editorial was published on April 21, 2010 in the Gisborne Herald by Ady Gil crewmember Mike Smith. Smith was on board the Ady Gil when the vessel was rammed in the Antarctic by the Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru 2.


Gisborne Herald

We need to stand up to Japan

by Ady Gil crew member Mike Smith, of Tauranga

I was one of the crew on the Ady Gil, the boat formerly known as Earthrace that was rammed by the Japanese in Antarctica. I am a firefighter in the NZ Fire Service, not a radical activist or terrorist like many people seem to think all Sea Shepherd crew are. I feel strongly enough about putting an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary that I took an opportunity to stand up for what I believe in.

We were a crew of six on the New Zealand flagged vessel the Ady Gil — two ex policeman, a navy diver, a firefighter, mechanical engineer, and a cameraman. We did not deliberately put ourselves in harms way (see unedited footage shot from the Ady Gil on youtube). Instead we were idle in the water, waiting to be re-fuelled and sitting on the roof talking, when the Captain of the Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately turned towards us. He had water cannons firing and the LRAD (acoustic weapon) activated and he deliberately rammed us, endangering our lives. And all with no repercussions.

I wonder what would happen to me if I chose to drive an 18-wheeled truck at you while you were sitting in your car with some friends, parked on the side of the road, and you caught it all on video? You all managed to get out of the car but only just and it was destroyed. Would you ask me to pay for your vehicle? Would you want to see me arrested?

This is what Pete Bethune (skipper of the Ady Gil) has done. He wanted justice and when no one else would, he stood up for himself and his crew and boarded the Shonan Maru No. 2 to make a citizen’s arrest of its captain, and hand him a bill for his destroyed boat.
The Ady Gil was not just a boat to Pete, it was his life for the last few years — he put all his money and energy into creating the world-record breaking, environmentally-friendly vessel, and then had to watch as it was sunk into the southern ocean because of the actions of illegal whalers.

Pete is now being held as a prisoner, being fed rice and cabbage in a Japanese jail, and our government is effectively doing nothing.

The Government needs to represent its citizens and put pressure on the Japanese to set Pete Bethune free. It should also demand that the Japanese co-operate with Maritime Safety New Zealand on the investigation into the ramming of the Ady Gil and then press charges against the Captain of the Shonan Maru No. 2.

The Government says it has an anti-whaling stance but it wants to make a deal with the whaling nations (Japan, Norway, Iceland) that would see commercial whaling legitimised. This makes New Zealand look hypocritical and gutless, setting us back decades.

We are strong enough to say no to the United States of America on nuclear issues and continue to trade with them, but when it comes to Japan and the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary we can’t seem to stand up and do what we know is right.

We need to say NO to Japan and stand strong and support the Australian Government’s proposal to end whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

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