March 2014: The Japanese whaling industry in the Antarctic is illegal under international law says the International Court of Justice and should be banned.
Their verdict follows Australia’s decision, in the summer of 2013, to take Japan to the ICJ, the principal judicial arm of the United Nations, over its whaling industry, which Japan claims is for scientific research.
Japan currently catches around 1,000 whales a year, with more than 10,000 killed since 1988, as part of its scientific programme. The country says the programme is designed to investigate the feasibility of resuming commercial whaling, while Australia argued that Japan’s scientific whaling program was commercial whaling in disguise.
The World Court found Japan’s programme failed to meet the conditions for scientific whaling under regulations set by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the body charged with the conservation of whales and the regulation of whaling.
It concluded “that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not 'for purposes of scientific research.'"
"Japan shall revoke any existent authorisation, permit or licence granted in relation to Jarpa II [research programme] and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance to the programme," the International Court of Justice's Judge Peter Tomk.
“We welcome the court’s findings,” said Patrick Ramage, IFAW’s Global Whale Programme Director, who was in court to witness the judgment being delivered. “IFAW had long pushed for whales to have their day in court, and we are very pleased that justice has been served.
“The government of Japan has a strong record of genuinely respecting international institutions and we fully expect Japan will abide by the Court’s ruling. We respectfully urge Japan, Iceland and Norway, the last three countries still killing whales for commercial purposes, to accept that whaling has no place in the 21st Century and to act in compliance with the judicial precedent set by the court today. “
Japan has announced that it will abide by its decision.