Bethune writing book about activism

Kyodo News

A New Zealand activist on trial in Tokyo for obstructing the activities of Japan’s whaling fleet said Friday ahead of the court ruling next week he is writing a book in prison about his life as a conservationist.

Peter Bethune, 45, said at the Tokyo Detention House the book is expected to cover “many areas,” including his journey two years ago when his biofuel-powered trimaran Earthrace broke the round-the-world speed boat record.

The book will also cover his experience in the Antarctic Ocean as a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society after the boat was renamed the Ady Gil after being sold to the U.S.-based group, as well as his life in Japan following his arrest in March on charges that include assaulting a crew member of the whaling fleet. The Ady Gil, under Bethune’s command, was cut in two by the whaling fleet security ship the Shonan Maru No. 2 and subsequently sank, with one crewman injured.

Prosecutors have sought a two-year prison term for Bethune, whose counsel called for a suspended sentence, noting he has pleaded guilty to four out of the five criminal counts against him and has expressed deep regret for his act.

In conspiracy with other Sea Shepherd members, Bethune allegedly threw a bottle of butyric acid onto the Shonan Maru No. 2 on Feb. 11, obstructing the crew’s activities, and injuring a crewman.

Bethune said he is “very nervous” to hear the ruling Wednesday. “I will accept the verdict, but I do hope to go home soon,” he said.

“I deeply regret” if someone was injured in the Antarctic Ocean, he said, adding, “I have nothing against Japanese.” But he also defended his actions, saying, “What I was doing was standing up for New Zealand and Australia.”

He stressed it is “deeply offensive” for the two countries to see the Japanese hunting whales specifically in the Antarctic Ocean, and that he “wouldn’t mind” if the hunt was in the North Pacific.