Defending self-purported research in the Antarctic, Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Koji Tsuruoka, argued against Australian claims in an international court that their often lethal whale expeditions amount to nothing more than exempted commercial whaling.
Japan granted itself a special scientific permit to conduct annual hunts for minke and fin whales in the Southern Ocean. The country claims that the research aids in collecting data that would enable whaling to be executed in a sustainable manner and that they are following international laws.
Antarctic waters have been protected by a whaling moratorium for nearly 30 years and Australia, backed by New Zealand and Green Peace, is pushing for a permanent ban. The official actions made in this case will decide the legality of Japan’s whale hunts.
Australia banned whaling in its own waters in 1979. Tsuruoka argued that Australia should not be able to impose its beliefs on other countries nor change the rules of the International Whaling Commission.
After decades of targeted hunts, whale populations around the globe plummeted, particularly in the Antarctic. According James Crawford, the Australian lawyer arguing for a ban before the International Court of Justice, Japan has “killed more than 10,000 whales” while doing their research.
According to the International Whaling Commission’s latest status of whales, fin whales have “not recovered to unexploited levels” and Antarctic minke whales have shown an “appreciable decline in abundance.”