Meeting My Political Match in Tokyo
Who would have thought that an anti-whaling, Greens surfing-Senator from Tasmania would meet a brother-in-arms in Tokyo?
I have travelled to Japan to lobby politicians and speak with the Japanese people about the slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean.
Here I addressed the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo about the concerns of the Australian people about whaling in the Southern Ocean.
Meet Taro Yamamoto: actor, surfer, anti-nuclear activist and rebel
I met with several Japanese politicians on my trip to Japan but none of them were like Taro Yamamoto. I went out of my way to meet him because I had read about his anti-whaling position but I didn’t think we would end up talking about surfing. I’ve invited him back to Tasmania to try out the waves.
From Actor to Activist
Before he was an activist and a politician, Taro was an actor. He starred as Shogo Kawada in Kinji Fukasaku’s 2000 film Battle Royale, which was a major influence on Quentin Tarantino and also inspired The Hunger Games.
Rebel MP who breaks all the rules
Taro became an anti-nuclear activist after the Fukushima disaster. He broke all the protocols when he approached the Emperor of Japan to hand him a letter on the issue. I have previously done something similar when I handed a letter from Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson to the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.
A rare and brave voice speaking out against whaling in Japan
Taro is one of the only politicians to recently speak against a new Japanese law that allows the military to protect Japanese whaling ships and to bring back full commercial whaling. He explained to me that whaling is not Japanese culture but politicians won’t ban it because of powerful vested interests.
We need more politicians like Taro so we can put an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean
Despite an international court finding that Japan’s whaling program was illegal, Japan is still going to kill 333 minke whales in the Southern Ocean this summer. As an Australian Senator I will do my best to make sure Australia continues to put legal and diplomatic pressure on Japan to still this terrible practice. But what is going to help more than anything is if more and more politicians like Taro enter their parliament and give a voice to the people of Japan who don’t want the whale hunt to continue.