In protest against animal research carried out by Japan, environmental group Greenpeace laid a whale cadaver in front of the Japanese embassy in Berlin.
Greenpeace's offer to transport the whale turned out to be a deception
Greenpeace dropped a 20-ton dead fin whale in front of Japan's embassy in Berlin on Wednesday night, as a protest comment on the Japanese practice of killing whales for research.
The environmental activism organization used a flat bed trailer to haul the 17-meter (56-foot) long finback whale to the embassy compound in central Berlin from the Baltic Sea town of Warnemünde, where it had been brought ashore.
Greenpeace has protested whaling practices in the past
"We want to show Japan how nonsensical whale-hunting is, and show them they must stop killing whales", Greenpeace spokesman Björn Jettka said. Killing whales for research purposes does not make sense because living creatures could be used instead, he said.
At the same time, the action supported environmentalists who have been blocking Japanese whale hunters in the Antarctic since December. Despite worldwide protest, Japan continues to catch whales each year.
This week, 17 governments, including Britain, protests Japan's scientific whaling program diplomatically. The Brazilian ambassador sent Tokyo a demarche on behalf of the collective governments, demanding Japan "cease all its lethal scientific research on whales."
A research boat hunting Minke whales off the coast of Iceland in 2003
The development came after a video release last week from Greenpeace that showed the horrific drawn-out death of a minke whale at the hands of a Japanese research expedition, and followed significant earlier opposition from governments, NGOs and the public.
After the 10 to 20-year-old whale died on the Baltic Sea coast on Saturday, Greenpeace offered to transfer it, at their own cost, to the German Oceanographic Museum in Stralsund for testing.
The environmental group now admits the move was a trick, and said they did not inform he Oceanographic Museum of the fact that they had planned to used the cadaver as a political protest.
A humpback whale in Australia
Greenpeace said it would leave the ocean mammal in front of the embassy until Thursday afternoon, where dozens of people came to have a look at the animal.
Criticism from Japa n
The embassy criticized the action.
"Whale catching for research, which Japan does, adheres to the regulations set forth by the International Whaling Commission," embassy secretary Kazuya Otsuka told Reuters news service.
At this point, the action is an uncomfortable situation that must be tolerated, he said.
"We have no other choice," Otsuka said.
Berlin's Senator for the Interior, Ehrhart Körting, said he personally was sympathetic toward the protest.
"It is our job to allow such congregations," he said, adding that the police gave a short-term permission for the action, since "it did not endanger the Japanese embassy."
Cha n ge of strategy?
The Berlin protest action might also be the first sign of a shift in strategy by Greenpeace officials.
Shane Rattenbury, who heads an expedition on the Greenpeace ship "Artic Sunrise" that has been trying to interfere with Japanese whaling boats, told DW-RADIO Thursday that his group will abort the mission shortly. Last weekend, a harpoon was fired from a Japanese whaling ship across a Greenpeace boat.
"We're seriously considering changing tactics in order to return home with all crew members alive," Rattenbury said, adding that the group was planning to focus on companies that cooperate with the whaling industry.