Despite the International Court of Justice’s ruling that Japan’s Southern Ocean whaling hunt was not scientific but just a smokescreen for commercial activities, it seems that the country’s Fisheries Agency is determined to push through with the Pacific Ocean program. However, they moved the start of the whale hunt from April 22 to the 26, right after US President’s Barack Obama’s visit to Tokyo and summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 24.
Some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said that the delay in the hunt is probably due to Obama’s visit, as the US is one of the countries that vocally opposes any sort of whaling activities in the oceans. There are also reports that not everyone in the government is happy with continuing the program in the other areas that are not covered by the ICJ ruling. The Foreign Ministry and the Fisheries Agency are continuing debates over this issue, with the former worried that other anti-whaling countries will bring similar suites against Japan while the latter pushing for the continuation of the Pacific hunt, but on a smaller scale. They suggest a scaled down target of 60 whales and more efforts on doing actual scientific research that will not involve hunting whales.
Meanwhile, environmental groups and anti-whaling activists are asking Japan to follow the spirit of the ruling by also discontinuing the Pacific hunt and other smaller coastal programs. The Pacific program involves two excursions in one year, covering the coastal waters and offshore activities as well. The smaller whaling programs are not covered under the International Whaling Commission‘s ban on commercial whaling, but has also met with criticism in the international community.
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