Japan’s Whaling Is Commercial and Not Scientific; International Court of Justice Rules
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has governed that Japan’s whaling program is not for scientific purposes and has forbidden the granting of further permits. The ICJ’s ruling is final and cannot be appealed.
The finding by a 16-judge panel at the ICJ is in favour of Australia’s argument that Japan’s whaling program is carried out only for commercial purposes rather than scientific research.
Japan has been able to kill limitless numbers of whales in the Antarctic under the treaty, arguing that they do so for scientific purposes.
Peter Tomka of Slovakia, the presiding judge, stated:
"In light of the fact the Jarpa II [research program] has been going on since 2005, and has involved the killing of about 3,600 minke whales, the scientific output to date appears limited, Japan shall revoke any existent authorisation, permit or licence granted in relation to Jarpa II and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance to the program."
Japan had argued it has complied with the moratorium despite a 2,000-year tradition of whale hunting, leaving coastal communities in what they described as "anguish" because they can no longer practice their ancestral traditions.
More than 10,000 whales have been killed since 1988 as a result of Japan’s programs.
Both Australia and Japan had said prior to the ruling that they would respect the court’s decision. Now is simply a matter of seeing if that still holds.