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Japan Kills 30 Minke Whales in the Name of 'Science' Despite ICJ Ruling

Jun 16, 2014 11:03 AM EDT
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Japan has caught and killed 30 minke whales in its first hunt despite the International Court Justice (ICJ) ruling earlier this year that specifically banned such practices.

In March, the ICJ ruled Antarctic whale hunts for "scientific research" were illegal under international law and forbade such expeditions, which Japan agreed to.

However, according to The Independent, the court's ruling only discussed Japan's JARPA II whaling program in the Antarctic and made no mention of its annual hunts in the Pacific - thus, allowing them to continue whale hunting, a practice they claim is "culturally misunderstood" and crucial to understanding whale populations worldwide.

Within months, reports have now emerged from the Japanese Fisheries Agency that 30 minke whales had been killed during the April-June whaling season as part of its "research hunts" in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

They also said that another group of whalers were continuing operations in a more remote part of the ocean.

The news will most likely come as a shock to the Australian and New Zealand governments, which first brought the matter to the ICJ's attention on the premise that their "scientific" whaling program was really commercial whaling in disguise.

According to The Associated Press, the Netherlands court said Japan's research program failed to explain why it needed to kill so many whales for its study. They gave the country the option of revising the program.

It is believed that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is keen to redesign the country's scientific whaling research program and lift the ban on commercial whaling.

On Monday he said, that he "aimed for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research in order to obtain scientific data indispensable for the management of whale resources," The Independent reported.

After these reports, the country remains under close watch. Just last week New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully reminded Japan that "The decision of the ICJ laid down clear guidelines for any research whaling activities in the future."

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