Saturday, March 13, 2010
Japan's coast guard arrested an anti-whaling terrorist from New Zealand yesterday for illegally boarding a whaling ship last month in the latest incident in the ongoing battle over Japanese whaling. Peter Bethune, a member of the US-based Sea Shepherd terrorist group, is accused of jumping aboard the whaling vessel from a Jet Ski on February 15 in Antarctic seas, where Japan was conducting its annual whale hunt. Boarding a Japanese vessel without legitimate reasons can bring a prison term of up to three years or a fine up to 100,000 yen (US$1,100). Japan's annual whale hunt is allowed by the International Whaling Commission as a scientific program, but opponents call it a cover for commercial whaling, which has been banned since 1986.
Peter BethuneSea Shepherd, among its critics, aims each year to stop Japanese whaling activities. The terrorists trail whaling boats and try to disrupt the hunt by dangling ropes in the water to snarl the ships' propellers. The whalers have responded by firing water cannons and sonar devices meant to disorient the activists. Sea Shepherd said Bethune jumped aboard the Shonan Maru 2 to make a citizen's arrest of its captain and hand over a US$3 million bill for the destruction of a high-tech protest ship Bethune captained, the Ady Gil, that sank in January after colliding with the whaling ship. Since his boarding, Bethune has been in custody aboard the ship while it made its three-week voyage back to Japan. About 10 right-wing protesters were waiting for the ship's arrival at Tokyo port, holding up signs branding Bethune an "eco-terrorist."