The decision to ban Japan’s annual whaling drive off Antarctica, handed down by the United Nations’ highest court on Monday, was a hard-won victory for conservationists who long argued that Tokyo’s whaling research was a cover for commercial whaling.
The ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague halts a Japanese program that has captured more than 10,000 minke and other whales in the Southern Ocean each year since 1988 in the name of biological research.
Japan may not be ready to lay down its harpoons entirely. Though the ruling is final, it allows the Japanese to continue to hunt whales under a redesigned program, said Nanami Kurasawa, who heads a marine conservation group in Tokyo.
And the court’s decision does not affect smaller hunts that Japan carries out in the northern Pacific, or coastal whaling carried out on a smaller scale by local fishermen…
In a 12-to-4 judgment, the court found that Japan was in breach of its international obligations by catching and killing minke whales and issuing permits for hunting humpback and fin whales within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established by the International Whaling Commission.
Reading a summary of the judgment, the presiding judge, Peter Tomka of Slovakia, said that the latest Japanese program, which was expanded in 2005, had involved the killing of thousands of minke whales and a number of fin whales, but that its “scientific output to date appears limited.” The ruling suggested that Japan’s whaling hunt was based on politics and logistics, rather than science…
Australia, a former whaling country, brought the suit against Japan in 2010, accusing the country of using a loophole to get around a 1986 worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling.
…Japan’s whaling program has struggled financially in recent years, as more Japanese consumers turn up their noses at whale meat and as environmental activists chasing whaling boats make the hunts more difficult. Hunts in recent years have relied on public subsidies, including money drawn from funds earmarked for Japan’s post-tsunami reconstruction.
Some critics said that Monday’s decision presented Japan with an opportunity to bow out of a practice that has become a drain on its finances, as well as a blow to its image abroad.
I think the Japanese politicians who constructed and defended the programmatic lie of scientific research to justify the annual whale slaughter should be converted to a diet of bat soup. From Guinea.