The end of whaling for Japan? 日本捕鲸业末日来临?

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Image caption Icebergs near the Antarctic

三艘日本捕鲸船在结束了本年度的南极海域捕鲸活动后已返回日本。日本说,在国际法庭宣布捕鲸违法之后已经取消了原定于明年年初开始的下一次南极海域的捕鲸计划。以下是记者 Michael Bristow 为 BBC发回的报道。

It wasn't much of a homecoming: family and friends on the dockside. The crews waved back and then unloaded their cargo of whale meat. It could be the last one for some time from the waters off the Antarctic.

Japan has cancelled next year's hunt after the International Court of Justice said it was illegal. Australia and New Zealand convinced the judges that Japan was not catching whales for scientific research, as it had claimed - to get round a worldwide ban on whaling.

Those welcoming home the flotilla were glum. One official bowed in apology. "People don't understand Japanese ways," said this man.

The captain from one of the returning ships said he hoped he'd someday return to the Antarctic. But next year will be the first time in 25 years that Japan has not hunted whales in the Southern Ocean.