Whale hunts in the name of "scientific research" will resume in 2015, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday at a press conference - a declaration that is in direct opposition to a ruling from the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this year.
Japan contends that their annual slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean is necessary for study, but in March the ICJ ordered the country to halt all such whaling operations, concluding that "the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales... are not for scientific research," according to a press release.
However, it seems that Prime Minister Abe is snubbing this court order with his announcement that Japan will indeed resume their whaling "research" program, but that the country is a "good international citizen" and will still adhere to the ICJ ruling.
"Japan is a country which values international law and order and the rule of law and therefore Japan will abide by the decision," Abe said at the joint press conference with Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is opposed to whaling.
"Based on this Japan, looking at international law and scientific grounds, will engage in research of whaling in order to collect the indispensable scientific information in order to manage the whale resources."
Despite the careful language masking this cruel sport as research, Japan has been very open in the past months about their plans to continue eating this local delicacy. Just last month, reports emerged that about 30 minke whales were killed in the northwest Pacific Ocean as part of Japan's "research hunts." Also, Japan kicked off its whaling season with a public carving in the town of Minamiboso, showing schoolchildren and onlookers how the food is cut up before it's eaten.
Despite the ICJ ruling, the country finds ways around the whaling ban because the court 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 such "culturally misunderstood" practices.
Needless to say the country will continue to be on close watch, and though Abbott and Abe did not outright discuss their difference of opinion on the subject, Abbott added that "New Zealand would certainly prefer to see the end of all whaling."
Japan is looked to modify its scientific whaling program so that it can return to the Southern Ocean in 2015.
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