The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nation’s highest court, has announced that it will proceed with public hearings regarding Australia’s case against Japan’s annual whaling hunt in Antarctic waters. The case was brought before UN’s highest judicial organ in May 2010, as Australia questioned Japan’s continuing large-scale whaling program where it claims that the Asian nation is in breach of international conventions.
“The International Court of Justice will hold public hearings in the case concerning whaling in the Antarctic, Australia versus Japan, from Wednesday 26 June,” ICJ said in a statement on Thursday. Australia had claimed in its case that all nations have the responsibility to preserve the marine environment, which these marine mammals are a part of. Australia is asking the ICJ to put a stop to Japan’s whale hunt, which it says is put under the guise of a research program called JARPA II. Furthermore, the Australian government is asking the ICJ to ban the Asian nation from hunting the aquatic mammals until such time that Japan would conform to its “obligations under international law”. Australia said in its case that it “requests the court to order that Japan cease implementation of JARPA II, revoke any authorization, permits or licenses” allowing whaling under the program. Australia’s lawyers will give their arguments on the first day of the hearings. Japan will be given a chance a week after, starting on July 2. It is expected that an ICJ ruling may take months before being handed down to the two parties.
In a statement released last week, Japan confirmed that this year’s haul of 103 Antarctic minke whales was the lowest under the research program, blaming the “unforgivable sabotage” it says was brought by the Sea Shepherd conservation group. In light of criticism from environmental groups and governments from other nations, Tokyo has continued to defend the whaling practice, saying that consuming whale meat is part of its traditions. Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke reacted strongly to Japan’s statement, saying that the whale haul “is 103 whales too many”.
[via The Australian]