Japan sparks anger as it resumes Antarctic whaling despite court ruling

Governments and environmentalists condemn announcement that Japanese government will start killing whales again for “scientific” research

Tom Brooks-Pollock
Sunday 29 November 2015 10:11
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A dead minke whale is unloaded in Kushiro on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
A dead minke whale is unloaded in Kushiro on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Japan has prompted international outrage by announcing the resumption of its “scientific” whaling programme, a year after a court ruled it should be suspended because killing whales was not necessary to study them.

Governments, including Britain and Australia, and environmental groups say they are “appalled” at the news that Japan will begin whaling again in the Antarctic, albeit on a smaller scale than before.

The Japanese government said that the renewed programme would take into the account the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2014, reducing the number of minke whales caught each year to 333.

The ICJ ordered Japan to cease all whaling, ruling that its “scientific” whaling programme was not scientific – because it was not clear that killing whales was helped further their study.

Australia, which brought the case against Japan at the court in the Dutch city of the Hague, condemned the announcement, the BBC reported. Its environment minister, Greg Hunt, said that his government “do not accept in any way, shape or form the concept of killing whales for so-called 'scientific research'.

"Japan cannot unilaterally decide whether it has adequately addressed [scientists' questions]."

Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said in a statement: “We are deeply disappointed with Japan's decision to restart whaling in the Southern Ocean.

"This undermines the global ban on commercial whaling which the UK strongly supports."


New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, described Japan’s decision as “appalling” and a show of “bad faith”.

Environmental activists also slammed resumption of Japan’s whaling programme.

Japan began scientific whaling in 1987 and argues that most whale species are not endangered, and the population is large enough to allow sustainable whaling.

The meat from the marine mammals is processed into food.

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