|Head of a sperm whale|
While Bruce, Kevin, and I were on the water, Rusty had the difficult job of going into the shore station itself and handing out our leaflets there. We wanted to explain to these workers, too, why we were trying to end whaling, and Rusty walked into the stench and the gore to deliver our message. She later had to throw away the shoes she'd worn; they were saturated with the muck and blood of dead whales.
We had anticipated that Rusty and I
would be arrested for trespassing onto private property and we expected to be in jail for several months. Our plan was that she would teach me to tap-dance during that time. Given my two left feet and general lack of rhythm, it seemed like a good project to keep us occupied while we awaited trial and our opportunity to address the Japanese public.
Three hours after I'd boarded the whaler, it pulled into port and I was removed by police officers, and taken to the police station. They asked me to return the next day with my friends, for questioning, but refused to arrest me. Because they also wanted to question the captain of the whaler, the boat was further delayed from putting back out to sea--and the whaling season ended a few days later.
Bruce, Rusty, and I returned to the police station as requested. The two of them were questioned for 8 hours; I was questioned for 11 hours. It was an experience that has given me empathy for anyone who confesses under interrogation to a crime he did not commit. After all, we'd anticipated being arrested, were fully cooperative (except in revealing names of helpful Japanese), and eagerly admitted our roles in trespassing and disrupting whaling operations--and still the interrogation process was grueling and exhausting and surprisingly emotionally draining.
And for all that, they still refused to arrest us. I chalk this up to their experience with my dear friend Dexter Cate. The previous year Dexter had been arrested and held in jail for three months while awaiting trial. He had freed hundreds of dolphins intended for slaughter (like in the documentary "The Cove"), and the Japanese authorities had learned that the longer he was held in jail, the more international public opinion grew against them. They wisely decided not to charge Rusty or me.
Instead of having our day in court, Rusty and I rode our wave of publicity, traveling around Japan to talk to students, organizations, and any group who would have us, about our arguments for ending whaling--until my visa was up and I was unceremoniously booted out of Japan.
At the time we were dismayed by our lack of a trial and the publicity it would have brought to the cause. But Rusty and I spoke the other day and agreed that we were fortunate to avoid jail time ... still, I never did learn to tap dance.
The following year (1982), the International Whaling Commission voted to stop all commercial whaling, to go into effect four years later. Japan, by taking "exception" to this ruling, continued to whale commercially until 1988. Its current "scientific research" whaling is a sham and a thinly-disguised continuation of commercial whaling--but the number of whales they kill has been greatly reduced.