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Japan Slaughters 30 Minke Whales Despite ICJ Ruling

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Japan has slaughtered thirty minke whales in its first annual hunt of the season, this despite an International Court Justice (ICJ) ruling earlier this year that ordered a halt of its expedition in the Antarctic.

Last March, the court rejected Japan’s contention that their JARPA II whaling programme in the Antarctic was scientific, not commercial. The decision was ruled on a suit brought by Australia and the New Zealand governments, which described the hunt as “ruse” to dodge prohibition against commercial killing. Although an international moratorium on commercial whaling has been in place since 1987, Japan still continued to hunt the whales under the pretense of scientific research. The court ruling found that the whale hunt in the Antarctic was not strictly for scientific purposes, and that is was a cover for commercial profit.

The ICJ ordered Japan to withdraw all whale hunting permits and licenses in the Antarctic, but the annual hunts along the northern coast, and in the northern Pacific, where approximately three hundred minke whales are slaughtered each year, were not discussed, nor included in the ruling.

The Japanese Fisheries Agency said that the thirty minke whales that have been killed during this year’s whaling season are part of its “research hunts’ in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

It seems that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to redesign the country’s scientific whaling research programme in order to have the moratorium on commercial whaling be lifted.

Prime Minister Abe said that he “aimed for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research in order to obtain scientific data indispensable for the management of whale resources.”

Japan’s decision to continue the whale hunts is very disappointing news to the Australian and New Zealand governments, who hoped that the ICJ’s decision would eventually put an end to all of Japan’s whaling programs.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully said that the “decision of the ICJ laid down clear guidelines for any research whaling activities in the future. As a country that places a high value on its good international citizenship, we hope and expect that Japan will continue to respect the ICJ decision.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons: courtesy of Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

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