Top U.N. court to rule on legality of Japan's whale hunt on Monday

THE HAGUE —

The U.N.‘s top court will rule Monday whether Japan has the right to hunt whales in the Antarctic, in an emotive case activists say is make-or-break for the giant mammal’s future.

Australia in 2010 hauled Japan to The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Tokyo of exploiting a loophole by hunting whales as scientific research, despite a 1986 ban on commercial whaling.

Australia has asked the world court to order Japan to stop its JARPA II research program and “revoke any authorisations, permits or licenses” to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean.

During hearings last year, Australia accused Japan of doing nothing more than “cloaking commercial whaling in a labcoat of science”.

While Norway and Iceland have commercial whaling programs in spite of the 1986 International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium, Japan insists its program is scientific, while admitting that the resulting meat ends up on plates back home.

Since 1988, Japan has slaughtered more than 10,000 whales under the program, according to Canberra, allegedly putting the Asian nation in breach of international conventions and its obligation to preserve marine mammals and their environment.

In its application before the world court, Australia accused Japan of failing to “observe in good faith the zero catch limit in relation to the killing of whales”.

Japanese officials declined to comment on specifics ahead of the ruling, but a Fisheries Agency official told AFP it maintained the view that “Japan’s whaling is purely for the purposes of obtaining scientific data, so that whale resources can be sustainably maintained”.

Tokyo has consistently defended the practice of eating whale meat as a culinary tradition.

Its lawyers have said the Japanese had a “proud tradition of living in harmony with nature, and utilizing living resources while respecting sustainability”.

Defiant Japanese Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi last year vowed Japan would never stop whaling, a “long tradition and culture” in his country.

Japanese officials told AFP ahead of the ruling that Tokyo would accept the verdict from the ICJ, set up after World War II to rule in disputes between countries.

Australia also said it would respect the judgement but added that its views were clear: “We oppose all commercial whaling, including Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling.”

Japan in April last year announced its whaling haul from the Southern Ocean was at a record low because of “unforgivable sabotage” by activists from the militant environmental group Sea Shepherd.

Sea Shepherd, which called the ICJ case make-or-break for whales in the Southern Ocean, said it hoped for a decision that would ultimately protect the giants of the sea.

“We are still preparing to head down regardless of the ICJ’s decision,” said Jeff Hansen, director of Sea Shepherd, which spends about $4 million annually on its anti-whaling campaigns in the southern oceans.

John Frizell of the environmental lobby group Greenpeace said a decision in favor of Australia “would place Japan in a very difficult position and present great difficulties for its operation in the Antarctic”.

However, if the court rules in Japan’s favor, “they will feel vindicated and free to continue their operations, which are becoming increasingly controversial,” he said.

Established in 1945, the ICJ is the U.N.‘s highest judicial body and the only one of five principal UN bodies not located in New York.

(c) 2014 AFP

  • -15

    Heda_Madness

    “We are still preparing to head down regardless of the ICJ’s decision,” said Jeff Hansen, director of Sea Shepherd, which spends about $4 million annually on its anti-whaling campaigns in the southern oceans.

    As if there was any doubt. The SS really do think they are above the law.

  • 0

    wildwest

    What are the odds?

  • 14

    paulinusa

    If the decision is based on real science Japan will lose.

  • 3

    Disillusioned

    Drum roll please!

  • 0

    rowiko68

    An interesting ruling to watch out for!

    Although I certainly don't condone the activities of Greenpeace activists, I think that today's times make it no longer justifiable to hunt those sea mammals, be it for scientific purposes or otherwise. So I believe this ruling is certainly going to be a significant one, and my hunch is that it's not going to be in favour of Japan

  • 11

    Sambhavo Patryck

    How about Norway and Iceland too! And so many other species, dolphins, sharks, tuna , etc. Without a balanced marine environment, us land based mammals are doomed! Maybe just as well !

  • 1

    In_japan

    I hope they have papers published.

  • 0

    Disillusioned

    I think the ruling will go against Japan. They are using the IWC draft to research the viability of commercial whaling in a whale sanctuary that was set up by the IWC to protect whales. It has to be wrong, doesn't it?

  • -2

    SamuraiBlue

    Why is AFP so biased in writing their article?

    With an unbiased court there is no way Japan would lose since they are doing the research as stipulated by IWC regulations by the letter.

  • 7

    Loki Herring

    Japan’s whaling is purely for the purposes of obtaining scientific data

    then why promote consumption of whale meat in Japan?

  • 10

    NavyCDR

    Simple solution; Japan volunteers to donate all whale flesh, incidentally resulting from their "scientific" experiments, to zoos outside Japan with nothing going back to Japan beyond "scientific" data.

    If Japan is being honest, then they will agree.

  • 4

    garymalmgren

    Just to clarify a point made by rowiko68

    " I certainly don't condone the activities of Greenpeace activists"

    Sea Shepard and Greenpeace officially parted ways over dealing with Japanese whaling 10 to 15 (or more) years ago. The two groups basically don't talk to each other.

    If the Greenpeace approach (of not backing Japan into a cultural corner) had been pursued on a broad basis by all anti-whaling campaigners the Japanese would be out of the business now.

    In my view, the continued actions by SS are one of the principle reasons that whaling by Japan is still undertaken.

    The case of the Nordic countries is a completely different situation.

  • -11

    kwatt

    It seems that Japan is always abiding by international rules/laws whatever people say about the scientific research. So Japan would win.

  • -3

    MGigante

    I think the ruling will go against Japan. They are using the IWC draft to research the viability of commercial whaling in a whale sanctuary that was set up by the IWC to protect whales. It has to be wrong, doesn't it?>

    Why do you think the IWC was set-up? It was to monitor and regulate whaling activity, and Japan is, by the letter, following their mandate. There is nothing illegal about the whaling, the Japanese are allowed to harvest a certain number of animals every year.

    @SamuraiBlue,

    Exactly right.

  • -7

    arrestpaul

    “We are still preparing to head down regardless of the ICJ’s decision,” said Jeff Hansen, director of Sea Shepherd, which spends about $4 million annually on its anti-whaling campaigns in the southern oceans.

    I'm shocked. The eco-terrorist SS intends to continue with it's repeated acts of violence regardless of this court, or any courts, decision. Violence is always the answer with the eco-terrorist SS and it's supporters.

    Hopefully, Australia and the Netherlands will finally realize that they are enabling the eco-terrorist SS violence by registering their garbage scows as Australian and Dutch vessels.

  • -3

    wtfjapan

    @arrestpaul nothing will change even if the ruling is for Japan SS will continue to harass the whalers, and I for one will make a very large donation to SS if the ICJ doesnt have the nads to stop this slaughter. if anything it will just make SS plight more determined than ever. many activist are prepared to put there lives on the line for what they believe, are the whalers!?

  • 0

    USNinJapan2

    NavyCDR

    Simple solution; Japan volunteers to donate all whale flesh, incidentally resulting from their "scientific" experiments, to zoos outside Japan with nothing going back to Japan beyond "scientific" data. If Japan is being honest, then they will agree.

    Why, when the IWC regulations already not only permit but require whale meat resulting from research whaling to be processed, marketed, and consumed (by humans) to the largest extent possible in order to preclude waste? What purpose does this serve beside demonstrating that the central issues is that Westerners just don't want the Japanese to eat whale meat after all? They can still hunt and kill whales and feed the meat to zoo animals just as long as Japanese people don't get to eat it? Your proposal makes little sense and is merely vindictive if you ask me.

  • 5

    OneHapa

    Always curious to me why Norway and Iceland aren't included in these efforts. I'm not condoning Japan's practices but seems all the vitriol and press are targeted just at Japan.

  • 2

    cleo

    Simple solution; Japan volunteers to donate all whale flesh, incidentally resulting from their "scientific" experiments, to zoos outside Japan with nothing going back to Japan beyond "scientific" data. If Japan is being honest, then they will agree.

    Why, when the IWC regulations already not only permit but require whale meat resulting from research whaling to be processed, marketed, and consumed (by humans) to the largest extent possible in order to preclude waste?

    IWC regulations (Article VIII) say nothing at all about anything being being consumed by humans. What it does say is that the animals should be processed and used as far as possible. Japan does not do this; it just freezes up the meat and chucks the rest over the side of the boat. Donating the offal, bones, etc., to zoos would ensure much less waste, but the bottom line is that the whole point of killing whales is to get the meat to sell in Japan. No meat, no whaling. Proof that the 'scientific research' is in fact nothing more than commercial whaling with a wink to the wise. If all the resulting meat went to zoo animals, 'scientific research' would stop immediately.

  • -3

    hampton

    OneHapa, this is not Japan's only whale hunt though. Japan has a very large North Pacific annual hunt, which is NEVER targeted by Sea Shepherd due to the different location of the hunt in waters nearer Japan. Norway and Iceland do not undertake annual whale hunts in the whale sanctuary in the southern oceans. They don't send fleets to this area. No one really complains about Japan's North Pacific whale hunt, so most people don't even know about it. The press and vitriol is not targeted at all Japan's whaling programs, only at the annual campaign that takes place in a whale sanctuary in the southern oceans. Location, location, location.

    For what it's worth, I can't see this ruling going against Japan, even though scientific research is an obvious smoke screen. The Japanese are masters of obfuscation. This whaling program costs tax payers a fortune. The only thing Japan's research has actually proved is that whaling in the southern oceans is not commercially viable and has to be over 90% funded by the tax payer, but Japan will "never stop".

  • -2

    OssanAmerica

    If the ICJ rules against Japan then it effectively pre-empts the charter, regulations and jurisdiction of the IWC. Hence it is unlikely to do so. But even if does, what is to keep Japan from conducting commercial whaling under protest as Norway and Iceland do? The only thing that would be gained is for Australia to be able to exert it's non-existent jurisdiction over territory it claims, although the claim is not recognized by most of the world. This is what Australia's "anti-whaling" is all about, nationalism. And the eco-terrorist organization SSCS has played upon it for it's own gain. This is why all the vitriol is targeted at Japan and no one else. The vast majority of Australians who are against the Japanese whaling" in antarctic waters openly state that they couldn't care less if Japan did it somewhere else.

  • 0

    jerseyboy

    Its lawyers have said the Japanese had a “proud tradition of living in harmony with nature, and utilizing living resources while respecting sustainability”.

    What a crock! Tell that to the blue-fin tuna population that Japan's "utilizing resources while respecting sustainability" attitude has led the charge to depleting the species to alarming levels, or how about "living in harmony with nature" to the dolphins slaughtered at Taiji.

  • -1

    smithinjapan

    Ossan: "But even if does, what is to keep Japan from conducting commercial whaling under protest as Norway and Iceland do?"

    Precisely, and Japan has in the past indicated it would restart commercial whaling -- ie. stop calling it research -- if they did not get their way. My question to you is, if you admit the non-binding ruling of the ICJ is more or less useless, why do you insist other nations meet Japan there on other issues to prove certain lands belong to Japan?

    Japan will lose, and then Japan will turn around and keep doing what they do anyways, claiming that this is an attack on their culture while pretending it's all about science.

  • 2

    Michael Barnard

    OssanAmerica. Aabsolute rubbish.

  • -2

    redmanshow

    Time for ICJ to step in and stop the Whale menace from Japanese "so called" researchers.

  • 2

    masterblaster

    Tokyo has consistently defended the practice of eating whale meat as a culinary tradition.

    How is a culinary tradition connected to scientific research?

  • 7

    zichi

    During the office of President Reagan Japan gave up whaling for fishing rights so the traditional wasn't that strong? When it lost the fishing rights it returned to whaling.

  • -2

    praack

    the ruling will probably go against japan but it is only due to emotion- this whole idea of the whale being the new god of the sea only started in the 70's anyway.

    does it make any real difference? no- the small amount taken by Japan and the other countries are not destroying the population of whale. this is do or die for the Greenpeace movement- it is a good thing they have such great friends with Australia: in their eyes if they can win against the evil Japanese then there is a better chance of forcing the Evil Scandinavians of changing.

    then it is off to force the couple Native American and Inuit Tribes to stop too ( they should become veggies anyway)

    and in the meantime whale population rates will stay about the same

  • 3

    ReformedBasher

    Which species of whales are we talking about here?

    Are the species that are actually being hunted actually in danger of extinction?

    Cleo, I'm sure I've said this before. You have my respect for your concern for living things. It is truly commendable. I know it's sincere, unlike some who have personal grudges against this country. In a perfect world, no animal, let alone human would ever be hurt. Let's agree on this one unshakeable truth.

  • -2

    Patricia Yarrow

    ReformedB...why does the bottom line have to be if the species is in danger of disappearing from Planet Earth? It is wrong to hunt whales because they are social mammals like ourselves. They are too close to being human. And, we don't need to hunt them to live. Leave them alone, all of them. Turn attention to creating sustainable fishing in the ocean, and we are on the way to a more harmonious existence on this blue pebble.

    Not to mention, the mercury in the meat of dolphins, and the cruel clubbing and imprisoning of the younger, cuter ones simply for human entertainment.

    Following your logic with Cleo, you are saying that we should not respect animals that are not in danger of extinction, I guess.

    Next: Norway and China, but this website is focused on Japan, so that is what we mostly talk about. If the Monday ruling goes against Japan, then we might expand into Norway and Iceland. Leave the Inuits to their actually traditional and not industrial scale of destruction living. They are a in a different category.

  • 1

    SamuraiBlue

    Patricia Yarrow

    why does the bottom line have to be if the species is in danger of disappearing from Planet Earth? It is wrong to hunt whales because they are social mammals like ourselves. They are too close to being human.

    Have any unbiased scientific fact to back up you claim?

    Meaningless rant.

  • 0

    Thunderbird2

    Praak... people do not see whales as gods. They see them as sentient animals with a complex social structure which deserve to be left alone. That they have been shown to be highly intelligent probably only came to light in the 70s.

  • -4

    OssanAmerica

    If the ICJ ruling is based on facts and science, Australia will have it's arse handed to it. If the ruling is based on emotion and distortion of facts, then the ICJ would rule in Australia's favor thereby effectively destroying the IWC. Do any of you anti-Whalers stop to consider how that would affect the whales? A world with no regulations at all to control commercial whaling? Distorting facts works on the internet but rarely does so in any court of law. New Zealand for example in support of Australia's claim actually tried to argue that the IWC was a whale conservation organization. That Australian nationalism behind this also evident in that no one complains about Japan's research whaling in the northern Pacific.

    Michael BarnardMar. 29, 2014 - 02:09PM JST OssanAmerica. Aabsolute rubbish.

    I'm sorry if the truth hurts.

  • -3

    invisiblecolor

    The loop hole in the rules needs to be closed. Its obvious the whalers are abusing the rules, but there is no way to prove they are simply lying. So all whales and their parts taken for scientific purposes should be discarded completely by a new set of rules, and one problem solved.

  • 6

    oldman_13

    Go Japan.

    But you never know, quite a few 'Japan dislikers' in the UN

  • -4

    falseflagsteve

    @USninJapan2

    Hey dude, i see your pic is now of an eagle. Are you a fan of Crystal Palace now?

  • 3

    AiserX

    Who cares? Nobody listens and should not listen or even take heed let alone the word of the U.N and it's rulings.

    In a perfect world, no animal, let alone human would ever be hurt. Let's agree on this one unshakeable truth.

    What tripe is this? Animals hurt each other all the time to eat one another. Humans hurt animals to consume them. Somehow your the arbiter of unshakeable truths and how the ecology should behave?

  • 2

    arrestpaul

    wtfjapan - nothing will change even if the ruling is for Japan SS will continue to harass the whalers, and I for one will make a very large donation to SS if the ICJ doesnt have the nads to stop this slaughter. if anything it will just make SS plight more determined than ever. many activist are prepared to put there lives on the line for what they believe, are the whalers!?

    The whalers didn't seem to have much difficulty dealing the eco-terrorist SS this season. The ICJ decision will be based on the facts of the case and the law. I doubt if they will take your nads into consideration. The long, established, history of eco-terrorist SS violence will also have some influence with the court. The eco-terrorist SS "plight" is that they are crewed by incompetents and led by angry incompetents who may have suffered a stroke.

  • 0

    marcelito

    arrestpaul - "I'm shocked. The eco-terrorist SS intends to continue with it's repeated acts of violence regardless of this court, or any courts, decision"

    Well, I hope your "shock" and outrage at wowing to continue its practice regardless of any courts decision extends to the Japanese Fisheries Minister Y. Hayashi who as quoted in this article stated that Japan " would never stop whaling , a long tradition and culture in this country ". Well, at least even its own Fisheries Minister let it slip that its about " Japanese culture " and not the pretend " science ". Thanks Hayashi san :)

    hedamadness -*The SS really do think they are above the law. * Well, ,It seems the Japan Fisheries Ministry also thinks they are above the law as per the Minister,s statement quoted above.

    Ossan - " this is what Australian anti - whaling is all about, nationalism " A load of nonsense - the majority of Australians who are anti whaling couldn't give a toss about any nationalism , but they do care about the environment. The only ones who exhibit any nationalism" in this case are the die hard supporters of J- whaling as evident by their own as well as the Fisheries Minister's remarks.

  • -7

    kcjapan

    "Japan has slaughtered more than 10,000 whales", please, please stop killing these beautiful animals.

  • -2

    OssanAmerica

    marcelitoMar. 30, 2014 - 08:24AM JST Ossan - " this is what Australian anti - whaling is all about, nationalism " A load of nonsense - the majority of Australians who are anti whaling couldn't give a toss about any nationalism , but >they do care about the environment. The only ones who exhibit any nationalism" in this case are the die hard >supporters of J- whaling as evident by their own as well as the Fisheries Minister's remarks.

    I am afraid you are completely wrong. Just go through the archives of posts right here on JT over the years pertaining to this issue of Japan conducting research whaling in Antarctic waters. You will see countless posts by self declared "Australians" arguing that the "Japanese should do their whaling someplace else". Many argue that they should do it "in their own waters". Supporters of the research whaling have no need to rely on nationalism as they already have the IWC regulations on their side.

  • 0

    marcelito

    Ossan...I,m pretty sure that majority of those " self declared Australians " are telling the J whalers to ply their taxpayer money.propped trade in their own waters not because they are some sort of " Australian nationalists" laying a claim to the Antarctic territory but.because the whaling is taking place in a supposedly protected marine sanctuary. " Nationalism " has nothing to do with it.

  • 3

    hkitagawa

    If we win I will open a whales sushi restaurant in Sydney!

  • -3

    Monica Gilbert

    hkitagawaMAR. 30, 2014 - 02:05PM JST If we win I will open a whales sushi restaurant in Sydney!

    And I will be on your doorstep every single day with my army of peaceful protesters. But of course you won't have customers for very long because they will die off from consuming heavy metals in the whale meat.

  • -3

    OssanAmerica

    marcelitoMar. 30, 2014 - 12:02PM JST Ossan...I,m pretty sure that majority of those " self declared Australians " are telling the J whalers to ply their taxpayer >money.propped trade in their own waters not because they are some sort of " Australian nationalists" laying a claim to >the Antarctic territory but.because the whaling is taking place in a supposedly protected marine sanctuary. " >Nationalism " has nothing to do with it.

    You clearly have no grasp of what is behind Australia's position on whaling in the Antarctic. If your argument is correct, then you are suggesting that the majority of Australians are incapable of reading English as the IWC website makes clear that Scientific Permit Whaling is exempt from recognizing IWC declared Sanctuaries and the Commercial Whaling Moratorium. You are insulting the intelligence level of an entire country. If on the other hand, you are arguing that the Japanese are conducting research whaling in an AUSTRALIAN declared whale sanctuary, then there is the proof that Australia is attempting to apply it's jurisdiction over waters that it does not own.

  • 2

    marcelito

    Ossan - you clearly are unable to grasp the simple fact i,m trying to convey without going off on a tangent. All I,m saying is that majority of Australian public is against whaling in the Antarctic sanctuary because they are pro -environment and not nationalistic. As an Australian I don't think I can make it any simpler and clearer for you.

Login to leave a comment

OR
  • 海外営業事務

    海外営業事務
    株式会社セドナエンタープライズ、Tokyo
    Salary: ¥220,000 ~ ¥400,000 / Month Negotiable
  • African Speaking Sales manager

    African Speaking Sales manager
    JPC TRADE CO.,LTD. (株式会社JPC)、Tokyo
    Salary: ¥200,000 ~ ¥450,000 / Month Negotiable Basic Salary + Incentives
  • Recruitment / HR Generalist

    Recruitment / HR Generalist
    Temple University, Japan Campus - テンプル大学ジャパンキャンパス、Tokyo
    Salary: Commensurate with experience plus transportation from/to TUJ
  • Program Assistant

    Program Assistant
    Temple University, Japan Campus - テンプル大学ジャパンキャンパス、Tokyo
    Salary: Commensurate with experience plus transportation from/to TUJ
  • Portuguese Speaking Sales Manager

    Portuguese Speaking Sales Manager
    Autocom Japan (オートコムジャパン株式会社)、Kanagawa
    Salary: ¥270,000 ~ ¥800,000 / Month Commission Based

More in National

View all

View all