by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 18, 2014
Japan said Friday it would redesign its controversial Antarctic whaling mission in a bid to make it more scientific, after a United Nations court ruled it was a commercial hunt masquerading as research.
The bullish response, which could see harpoon ships back in the Southern Ocean next year, sets Tokyo back on a collision course with environmentalists.
Campaigners had hailed the decision by the International Court of Justice, with hopes that it might herald the end of a practice they view as barbaric.
“We will carry out extensive studies in cooperation with ministries concerned to submit a new research programme by this autumn to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), reflecting the criteria laid out in the verdict,” said Yoshimasa Hayashi, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Japan, a member of the IWC, has hunted whales under a loophole allowing for lethal research. It has always maintained that it was intending to prove the whale population was large enough to sustain commercial hunting.
But it never hid the fact that the by-product of whale meat made its way onto menus.
“The verdict confirmed that the (IWC moratorium) is partly aimed at sustainable use of whale resources.
“Following this, our country will firmly maintain its basic policy of conducting whaling for research, on the basis of international law and scientific foundations, to collect scientific data necessary for the regulation of whale resources, and aim for resumption of commercial whaling.”
Hayashi, who had met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier in the day, confirmed a previous announcement that the 2014-15 hunt in the Southern Ocean would not go ahead.
Last month’s court ruling does not apply to Japan’s two other whaling programmes: a “research” hunt in coastal waters and in the northwestern Pacific, and a much smaller programme that operates along the coast, which is not subject to the international ban.
The 26th whale meat tasting event in Tokyo was hosted near the nation’s parliament and was attended by lawmakers, officials and pro-whaling lobbyists.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told attendees that the country must protect its whale-eating culture.
“[Japan] has a policy of harvesting and sustainably using the protein source from the ocean, and that is unshakable,” Associated Press quoted Mr Hayashi as saying.
Meanwhile, a lower house MP criticised the arguments against whaling as emotional and not based on reason.
“Japan’s whaling is based on scientific reasons, while counterarguments by anti-whaling groups are emotional, saying they are against the hunts because whales are cute or smart,” the Japan Times reported Shunichi Suzuki of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party as saying.
Japan ‘will continue whaling in Pacific’
Updated: 15:21, Friday April 18, 2014
Japan has decided to continue its whaling program in the Pacific Ocean, reports say, despite losing a United Nations court case on its other “research” hunt in the Antarctic.
If confirmed, the move will likely spark anger among environmentalists who hailed a ruling in March by the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Tokyo’s hunt in the Southern Ocean was a commercial activity disguised as science.
Japan has exploited a loophole in a 1986 moratorium that allowed it to conduct lethal research on the mammals, but has openly admitted their meat makes its way onto dinner tables.
Campaigners urged Tokyo to follow the spirit of the ruling, and not just its letter, which specifically referred to Japan’s hunt in the Antarctic, not its other research scheme in the northwest Pacific or its smaller coastal program.
But after the ICJ verdict, a government review has said the Pacific hunt should press ahead, public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News Agency reported on Friday.
The review suggests the Pacific mission should reduce its catch and focus more on carrying out research that does not involve catching whales.
A spokesman for the fisheries agency said he was unable to comment.