Japanese officials said the nation’s “research” whaling program will resume next year despite a landmark decision by a UN top court to banish its whaling fleet from the Southern Ocean.
Tokyo’s Institute of Cetacean Research made clear Japan’s intent to resume hunting whales as early as the fiscal year starting April 2015 as stated in court documents filed with the US District Court in Seattle.
Officials said the country plans to abide by the ruling of the International Court of Justice last month by changing its research program, such as reducing the number of whales to be harpooned in the name of science.
A memorandum lodged in a US lawsuit against conservation group Sea Shepherd also states that whaling permits would not be issued for the 2014–15 season in line with the ICJ ruling. The ruling does not cover the following season.
“The Government of Japan recently announced the JARPA II special permits would not be issued for Plaintiffs to conduct research in the Southern Ocean during the 2014–15 season,” John Neupert, counsel for the ICR said.
“For the information of the Court and parties, Plaintiffs expect that they will be conducting a Southern Ocean research program for subsequent seasons that would be in accord with the ICJ decision,” said Neupert.
The move immediately faced strong opposition from Sea Shepherd, which has been locked in legal disputes with the ICR. The institute has long sought to put an end to the militant group’s interference in its hunt.
“The statement that Japan issued that they would comply with the ICJ ruling was, I believe, insincere,” Paul Watson, founder of the Washington-based group said.
“Japan has a history of duplicity with regard to whaling. I fully expect that Sea Shepherd Global will be prepared to return to the Southern Ocean in December 2015 to once again defend the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”
The country lost a case brought by Australia to the court in The Hague which ruled that Japan’s Antarctic whaling program was not for scientific research as permitted under International Whaling Commission rules.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was deeply disappointed with the outcome but would abide by the decision.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: “2009-02-06 Steve Irwin collides with Yushin Maru No. 3” by John/Flickr