The Japanese government confirmed on Friday that it will abide by the decision of the International Court of Justice that ordered the country to halt its annual whale hunts in the Antarctic Ocean. The ICJ had finally ruled on the case brought by Australia in 2010, where the complaint was that while Tokyo insisted that its whaling program was conducted for “scientific research,” Canberra claimed that it just covered up a commercial harvest for whale meat.
The Japanese government has come out saying that it was “deeply disappointed” with the ICJ’s decision, but will “comply with the ruling” formalized on March 31 at the Hague. Japan says that it is a nation that respects the rule of law, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has made it known that the country will be stopping its whale hunts. But the Japanese government also said that it will study the details of the ruling and consider what steps it may take “with sincerity.” The international court had supported Australia’s claims, saying in the ruling that Japan’s whale hunts was not “scientific” and it violated a 1986 moratorium by the International Whaling Commission that bans commercial whale hunting.
The decision was seen by some – even in the whaling industry – as a needed gaiatsu, or external pressure that finally brought about change. Many fisheries officials had known about the problems of the so-called whaling research program. But there were too few who, if any, had the political muscle and guts to fight the pro-whaling lobby – which included whalers, the whaling division of the Fisheries Agency, whaling-related businesses and even powerful lawmakers. The ruling was therefore a way to save face, and yet still bring on the changes that were needed. “Unfortunately Japan cannot change its policies without ‘gaiatsu,’ and the ruling definitely serves that role to finally bring about a change,” said Atsushi Ishii, an expert of international relations at Tohoku University.
[via The Republic]
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