What will Japan learn by resuming 'research' whaling?
Japan announces it will resume 'scientific whaling' in 2015, despite ban by the ICJ
Japan will restart its scientific whaling programme in 2015, according to the country's prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
Japan cancelled its scheduled 2014-2015 Antarctic hunt in the wake of an International Court of Justice ruling ordering its operation to stop, but Abe said that next year whaling for "research" purposes would resume.
In a meeting with Australia's prime minister, Tony Abbott, Abe explained that, in his view, the ICJ ruling simply sought to establish protocols for the sustainable use of resources.
"Based on this, Japan, looking at international law and scientific grounds, will engage in research whaling in order to collect the indispensable scientific information in order to manage the whale resources," he said.
Abe stressed that his country was a "good international citizen" and would adhere to the terms of the ICJ's decision.
Abbott expressed Australia's opposition to the programme, saying "Australia and Japan respectfully differ on the question of whaling".
The announcement sparked outcry from environmentalists, who believe that Japan's whaling programme is merely an attempt to circumvent the ban on the commercial whale meat trade.
There has been an international moratorium on commercial whaling in place since 1986, The Guardian notes, but Japan has continued its activities under an exemption that allows countries to hunt and kill whales for scientific purposes.
A "whale week" was recently held by Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan's fisheries minister, to remind Japanese people about the place eating the animal has in their diet and culture.
Since 1995, Japanese whalers have killed about 3,600 minke, fin and other whales, the Financial Times reports, as part of a programme that claims to study whales' migratory patterns and the impact they have on the ocean ecosystems.
Darren Kindleysides, director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, told Guardian Australia that there were ways to pursue whale research without killing the animals. "The ICJ judgment was damning over the lack of science and the fact Japan hasn't looked at non-lethal ways of collecting research on whales," he said. "With the methods we now have to study whales, it's a fallacy to say you have to kill them to study them".