UN orders Japan to halt whaling in the Antarctic
Japan must end its annual Antarctic whale hunt, UN orders in landmark ruling
United Nations judges have ordered Japan to end whale hunts in the Antarctic after dismissing Japanese arguments that the hunting was carried out for scientific research purposes.
The International Court of Justice's ruling is binding on Japan and cannot be appealed following a case bought by Australia in 2010.
"Japan shall revoke any existent authorisation, permit or licence granted and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance to the programme," Judge Peter Tomka said.
In a case that symbolises an East-West culture clash, the judge has upheld a long-standing Western campaign to end whale hunting in the Southern Ocean with a judgment that "special permissions granted by Japan are not for purposes of scientific research".
"The evidence does not establish that the programme's design and implementation are reasonable in relation to its stated objectives," the court said.
Norway and Iceland have continued commercial whaling programmes in defiance of a 1986 International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium.
In contrast, Japan has always claimed that its whaling is scientific but has admitted that the meat from slaughtered whales ends up on Japanese dinner plates.
The UN court ruled that "funding considerations, rather than strictly scientific criteria, played a role" in the granting of Japanese whaling permits.
Australia presented evidence to the court to show that Japan has slaughtered more than 10,000 whales since 1989 under the pretext of scientific research in breach of international conventions to preserve marine mammals.
"Neither commercial nor scientific whaling have any place in the 21st century," said Claire Bass, Head of the World Society for the Protection of Animals after the ruling.
"All eyes are now on Japan to respect this decision."
The Japanese Fisheries Agency official told AFP that "Japan's whaling is purely for the purposes of obtaining scientific data, so that whale resources can be sustainably maintained".
Previously, Japan has defended the practice of eating whale meat as a culinary tradition and vowed that the Japanese would "never stop whaling".
But Japanese officials have signalled that Tokyo will accept the verdict of the UN court, set up after the Second World War to rule in disputes between countries.