Japan to resume whaling in Antarctic despite court ruling

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A minke whale (R) and calf rise to the surface off the coast near Sydney, Australia on 8 June 2010Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Japan says it will catch only a third of the minke whales it caught under its previous programme - 333 instead of 1,000

Japan has announced it will resume whaling in the Antarctic early next year after a break of more than a year.

The decision comes despite an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that Japan cease all whaling.

The Japanese government says it has taken into account the court ruling and its "scientific" whaling programme will be much smaller.

But the announcement has been condemned by environmental groups and the Australian and UK governments.

"We do not accept in any way, shape or form the concept of killing whales for so-called 'scientific research'," said Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

"We are deeply disappointed with Japan's decision to restart whaling in the Southern Ocean," said the UK environment ministry, Defra. "This undermines the global ban on commercial whaling which the UK strongly supports."

Image source, Twitter

Japan's whaling fleet could set sail again within weeks and head for the Southern Ocean, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield Hayes in Tokyo.

Under Japan's revised plan, it will reduce the number of minke whales caught each year by two thirds to 333.

The Japanese authorities believe their plan is scientifically reasonable but it is unlikely to placate opponents, in particular the Australian government.

"Japan cannot unilaterally decide whether it has adequately addressed" scientists' questions, Mr Hunt was quoted as saying.

Image source, AFP
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This is the latest move in a years-long struggle pitting Japan against other governments, activists and the international court
Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Japan makes no secret of the fact that the meat resulting from its so-called scientific whaling programme ends up on the plate

'Sentimental' critics

In 2014 Australia won a case against Japan in the international court of justice in the Netherlands.

The court ruled that Japan's "scientific" whaling program was not scientific at all - and ordered Tokyo to recall its fleet.

Crucially, the ruling stated that it did not believe it was necessary for Japan to kill whales in order to study them, our correspondent says.

Japan started its whaling programme in 1987, a year after an international moratorium was enacted.

It accuses critics of being sentimental about whales and disregarding scientific evidence about the sustainability of whaling.

The ICJ says Japan has caught some 3,600 minke whales since its current programme began in 2005.