31 Mar, 2014
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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 31 March 2014 ruled that Japan’s whaling program is not for scientific purposes forbade the granting of further permits to Japan. The finding by a 16-judge panel at the ICJ was in favour of Australia’s argument that Japan’s whaling program is carried out for commercial purposes rather than scientific research. The ICJ’s ruling is final and there will be no appeal. Both Australia and Japan had said prior to the ruling that they would respect the court’s decision. More than 10,000 whales have been killed since 1988 as a result of Japan’s programs.
Japan’s argument in favour of Whale-hunting:
Japan had argued it has complied with the moratorium despite a 2,000-year tradition of whale hunting, leaving coastal communities in anguish because they can no longer practice their ancestral traditions.
Whale-hunting in Japan
During the 20th century Japan was engaged in heavy volumes of whale-hunting until the International Whaling Commission (IWC) imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling went into effect in 1986. Japan continued to hunt whales using the scientific research provision in the agreement, and Japanese whaling is currently conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR). Japan has been able to kill unlimited numbers of whales in the Antarctic under a treaty which permitted it to conduct whale-hunting for scientific purposes.