03/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The "Tokyo Two" Go To Trial Over Anti-Whaling Activism

The LA Times reports that the international battle over whaling has moved from places we're used to it -- that is, at sea, in the Antarctic, with pirates and so on -- all the way to Tokyo. Two men say they uncovered evidence of whale meat being sold illegally by "research" crews. The men were arrested.

The debate is interesting in and of itself, but perhaps more interesting is that activism is coming from Japan itself.

Part of the Times' report on the Tokyo Two:

It also is a rare occurrence of Japanese taking the lead in protesting their government's environmental policies. In a culture where demonstrations are rare and a premium is put on polite public discourse, Sato and Suzuki's actions have raised eyebrows.

"Usually it's Australians, Americans or British taking action, not the Japanese themselves," said Keiko Hirata, a political scientist at Cal State Northridge who specializes in Japanese foreign policy.

Along with putting Japan's whaling practices on trial, experts say, the case calls into question the tactics of activist groups such as Greenpeace, which are often viewed here as meddling outsiders.