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Japan to resume whaling
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Japan to resume whaling in Antarctic despite court ruling

Japan has announced it will resume whaling in the Antarctic early next year after a break of more than a year. The country’s whaling fleet could set sail again within weeks and head for the Southern Ocean. The decision comes despite an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that Japan cease all whaling.

A whale and a calf being loaded aboard a Japanese factory ship, the Nisshin Maru

The Japanese government says it has taken into account the court ruling and its "scientific" whaling programme will be much smaller. Under Japan's revised plan, it will reduce the number of minke whales caught each year by two thirds to 333.

A Minke whale

The Japanese authorities believe their plan is scientifically reasonable but it is unlikely to placate opponents, especially when Japan makes no secret of the fact that the meat resulting from its so-called scientific whaling programme ends up on the plate.

Whale meat on sale at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Japan

The announcement has been condemned by environmental groups and the Australian and UK governments. Said Australia’s Environment Minister,

"We do not accept in any way, shape or form the concept of killing whales for so-called 'scientific research'.”

UK’s environment ministry also stated,

"We are deeply disappointed with Japan's decision to restart whaling in the Southern Ocean. This undermines the global ban on commercial whaling which the UK strongly supports."

One of the photos released by Australia in 2008, this one of the YĆ«shin Maru with a harpooned minke whale

In 2014 Australia won a case against Japan in the international court of justice in the Netherlands. The court ruled that Japan's "scientific" whaling program was not scientific at all - and ordered Tokyo to recall its fleet. Crucially, the ruling stated that it did not believe it was necessary for Japan to kill whales in order to study them. According to the ICJ, Japan has caught some 3,600 minke whales since its current programme began in 2005.

(All images - credit: Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licence)

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